Here love truly does not seek its own, even if this be the salvation of one’s own soul.
Saint Marie Skobtsova of Paris

«— Warning: These 3 things could ruin your Valentine’s Day
—» Four Reasons It’s Not “Advent”

The Roots of This Tree Go Deep

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Fr Justin Patterson blesses the newly-planted cross with incense. (Image source: Michelle McCallum, Flickr)

I often try to forget or ignore stuff I have done that is embarrassing or hard to explain. (Maybe you do, too.) I look for ways to spin things so they sound awesome (or at least acceptable). But sometimes, turning points force me to recall my roots and not to ignore them. This week I plunged into just such a reverie, because a parish which I helped establish purchased some land recently and this week planted a cross there. Unfortunately, I missed this beautiful service, but when I saw the photos online, the sight of that weathered old cross on the site of the church’s new property made me very, very happy. Let me tell you why. The roots of that cross go very deep for me and for that parish.

Saint Athanasius Orthodox Church, just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, was founded about fifteen years ago.[1] In those early days, we dreamed a lot. Boy, did we dream! But one dream stood out: Read the rest of “The Roots of This Tree Go Deep”

Linknotes:
  1. When we first started, we were outside the normal boundaries of the Orthodox church. We call this kind of existence outside the ordinary boundaries of the church “non-canonical.” In the case of our mission, we were continuing in the tradition we received from the church that founded us — a very Orthodox thing to do, ironically. When that church requested to join an established Orthodox church, so did we.
Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 2:29 pm

«— Jokers
—» The Coming One

A Beautiful Vigil

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

At St Vladimir’s Seminary, where we have been hosting the relics of our community’s patron, the holy great prince Vladimir, the Seminary’s octet and St Tikhon’s Seminary’s Mission Choir sang the Saturday all-night vigil antiphonally. There are already some videos up. The videos uploaded on November 13 all capture the vigil we celebrated before the relics of St. Vladimir.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 10:28 am

«— The River Keeps Flowing
—» Going to Yonkers

No Disputing Over Taste

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

In my church on Easter we bring to church baskets overflowing with foods we forwent during Lent. The priest blesses these baskets full of meats and cheeses, butter and wine, and we exuberantly share the bounty with each other. It has become a personal tradition to include a pepperoni in my basket. One Easter a few years ago, I was enjoying slices of my pepperoni and offering chunks and slices to everyone in the parish hall. Then one of my dearest friends curled her nose at my offering. She squinted at me. “Basil,” she said, “how long have we been friends? What? Ten years? We’ve been friends for all that time, and you still don’t know that I hate pepperoni?” She may as well have told me she hates breathing. I mean, really: Who doesn’t like pepperoni?

My father is a retired Methodist minister. He and my mother now attend a rather large Baptist church in their rural Tennessee hamlet. To Catholics and Orthodox this is as surprising as learning that a delicatessen owner used to prefer pepperoni but, now that he is retired, he prefers salami. To evangelical Protestants, especially those from the rural South, this is akin to learning that the owner of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise now hates chicken and spends all of his time with beef cattle farmers.

He has been asked by friends and colleagues why I am Orthodox. He tells them that I was always interested in liturgical expressions of faith, which to Baptists sounds like, “He’s always been interested in vegetarian expressions of meat.”

The food metaphor is apt, I think. By framing my faith as motivated by worship style, it becomes a question of taste. De gustibus non disputandum est. There is no disputing over taste, states an old medieval proverb. Like my friend who does not like pepperoni, there is no point in arguing whether you “like” something or not.

Because of the pluralism of our society, much of our discourse about our religious beliefs and practices is framed in the language of taste. If choosing between Jesus or the Dharma or the Tao is like deciding whether to have pizza, steak, or barbecued spare ribs this evening, then I am not hurt if you like Jesus and not the Tao, or even if you prefer your Dharma with a side of Yahweh and a light slice of Quran for desert.

If religion is a matter of the truth of things, that is, when believers act as if they are making statements about the way things really are, then people get hurt. No one likes it when people get hurt, right? And getting hurt reminds people about some very nasty things in the history of Western Christianity pursued under the name of religious truth: the Inquisition and the Crusades, for example.

People are especially likely to get hurt when they are told what to do. Pray this way. Do not eat that. Keep your sexuality pure and whole and simple. Despise not foreigners and weirdos. Give to the poor. Aid the lovelorn and the fatherless. Love unconditionally. The prescriptive nature of religion vexes the irreligious.

License is so much shinier than goodness. Who wants responsibility when you can do whatever you want? Well, teenagers, actually. An important effect of religion is just helping us to act like adults in the face of life’s nastiness. Keep religion no more important than a preference for pepperoni over salami, and no one gets hurt. But if it is not important, one wonders how religion gives meaning to anyone at all.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 11:28 am

«— Artificially Created Stem Cells Used to Cure Sickle Cell in Mice
—» Usage note: Roll versus role

Twittering

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

It’s great to be home. I just want to say that. I have approximately one year left in the Navy, and I can’t wait to come back here for a much longer period.

I just signed up with Twitter, which is a micro-blogging site. I can also sync it up with Facebook status updates. My twitter username thingie is kevinbasil.

I CAN HAZ LIFE NOW?

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 9:21 pm

«— Consent of the Governed, Right to Know
—» Reflections on L’Engle’s Aesthetics

Freedom of a Sort

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

When I finally gave up hoping that my Jeep would be returned to working condition in what I would have previously considered a timely fashion, I stopped paying exorbitant fees for taxicabs and learned how to use the local public transit, which is primarily buses. Greg is a friend from Boston who uses public transit there exclusively, and he promised I would find it liberating. Although I miss the freedom of a private vehicle (no word yet on the Jeep), his promise has been fulfilled in a very spiritual sort of liberation:

I no longer fret or steam over traffic snarls. I typically leave one and a half to two hours before liberty expires, and I must be on the ship. Further, someone else is in the driver’s seat. It is their problem, not mine.

I have completed reading several books (today makes three by my count) — a feat I had not accomplished since February 4, 2004 (yes, that fateful day). I have started many, but finished none.

These are, of course, the two books recommended by my spiritual father and the other, related title, which I mentioned previously. Since my internet connection is currently hampered by my abysmal financial condition, I will collect offline my thoughts on each text individually and then post them here.

Clearly, this is liberty of a different sort. As a citizen of the United States, I am accustomed to imagining liberty, especially when associated with traveling about, with freedom to: to move, to go where I wish right now, or in exactly thirty-five minutes, to get there faster or slower, and so forth. But my newly discovered liberty is precisely a freedom from: from the need to be dominated by my desires to roam, from the entanglement with traffic, which tends toward my agitation, from slavery to an object that, as we speak, is demonstrating that its value will have an end.

And it feels good to be free.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 6:31 pm

«— Happy Anniversary to My Blog
—» Miscellany

Updates ‘N’ Stuff

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

I’m now on Facebook, which I can already tell I will like a lot better than myspace. I got a nice warm fuzzy when I saw it used php instead of coldfusion, then I saw that a lot of people that I already know have Facebooks. (Apparently, that’s the semantically correct way of referring to one’s profile.) After reading a New York Times article about Facebook, I was a little nervous that I would seem old and creepy. This was short-lived, as I found that many of my meatspace friends already have Facebooks.

I have been advanced to Sonar Technician Second Class. A second class petty officer is equivalent (by paygrade) to Sergeant in the Marine Corps or ArmySergeant in the Marine Corps or Army. Since, iIn the submarine force, the engineering rates all arrive at the boat as third class petty officers, because of their nuclear training, and most forward rates are fairly close to third class, as well. And, depending on one’s rate, third class advancement percentages can be fairly high. As a result, third classes are sometimes treated rather like seamen in the sub force. Second class, I’m already finding, is where more responsibility is truly given and expected.

We are going underway again, very soon. (That is why I have not posted very much here lately.) We will make a stop in Mayport in the middle of two weeks of midshipman ops and in Port Canaveral towards the end of the underway. Apparently, there is a rumor that we may see the Great and Elusive Swim Call, thought by some to be only a mythical beast.

Sign up on the mailing list to get updates from sea.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 6:37 am

«— Sabbath
—» One Last Paschal Shout

Brother Lawrence

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

Having reached the end of the introductory writings that accompany this “critical edition” of Brother Lawrence, as well as the Eulogy written by his original publisher, Joseph Beaufort, I will report: Brother Lawrence was an extremely intelligent and insightful monk who was raised with a minimum of education. He was able to write, but he was not a scholar. His method indicates a familiarity with the patristic consensus as it would have been understood by a Discalced Carmelite of the seventeenth century. His writing is consistent with the fathers, but he does not quote them.

He was beloved by Archbishop Fénelon, who was implicated in the Quietist controversy of the seventeenth century. Fénelon’s Maxims of the Saints and other writings were condemned by the pope as Quietist. It would be interesting to see an objective discussion of Quietism from an Eastern Orthodox perspective — one free of any anti-Roman rancor.

The Eulogy is rather saccharine and bears unfortunate similarity to medieval and Byzantine hagiography, without the fantastic embellishments of miracles and asceticism which stretch credulity and remove the subject from the realm of the mundane in which the reader lives. The editors include it because it represents an honest, if stylized, portrait of Brother Lawrence by one of his peers and the man who (most likely) originally published the writings which we have preserved.

Next, I hope to report on some actual writing by the monk himself.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 5:10 am

«— Technological Terror
—» Brother Lawrence

Sabbath

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

I am going on a blog sabbatical. I am not speaking of a rest from writing; I need a break from reading blogs so I can read something enduring. It has been a long time since I read a hardcopy book, and I have been given several recommendations by my spiritual father: The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a Discalced Carmelite of the seventeenth century, and The Mountain of Silence by Kyriakos Markides, about his encounters with a monk from Mount Athos. Along with these, I purchased and hope to read Scott Cairns’ Short Trip to the Edge about his pilgrimage to Athos.

I hope to find some time to write about these here, but I need to stop reading the ceaseless torrent of blogging to get there.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 5:02 pm

«— Facing Death Unmedicated
—» Technological Terror

Saint Athanasius

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

Joyous feast! (S’prazdnikom / С праздником!)

To all my brothers and sisters at Saint Athanasius, I miss you very much, and I’m sorry I was not present for the first ever liturgy on the land.

Tropar hymn, Tone III

Like a pillar of orthodoxy you supported the church with your teaching, O holy hierarch, * refuting the nonsense of Arius by insisting that Father and Son share the same nature. * O venerable father, beg Christ, our God, to grant us his great mercy.

Kondak hymn, Tone II

When you sowed the teaching of true faith and cut away the weeds of falsehood, * you made the seeds sprout forth in great abundance by the showers of the spirit. * For this, we sing your praises, Athanasius, holy father.

I had two wonderful posts written. I killed them both inadvertently (ie, by my own stupidity).

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 5:21 pm

«— Christus resurrexit!
—» Facing Death Unmedicated

Protected: Non-conformist Who Craves Touch

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 4:16 pm

«— It’s journalism, stupid
—» Father Thomas Hopko on Scripture and Evangelical Dialogue

A Kiss and a Vow

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

The confession of faith. For many, it is the most memorable part of reception into the Church, especially if it is accompanied by a renunciation of errors. Listen to this recollection by my godfather:

When our youngest, Clare, read the oath, “This true faith of the Orthodox Church, which I now voluntarily confess and truly hold, that same I will firmly maintain and confess, whole and unchanged, even until my last breath, God helping me. And I will teach and proclaim it, insofar as I am able. And I will strive to fulfill its obligations with zeal and joy, preserving my heart in good deeds and blamelessness. In witness of this, my true and pure-hearted confession, I kiss the Word and Cross of my Savior. Amen,” her voice rang clear and pure. She was a good reader and did not stumble in the least – either over the difficulty of some words, much less the boldness of what she was saying. You could hear the echo of the many child martyrs the Church has known through the ages. Somehow all of us felt embarrassed by the purity and sincerity of her words – purity that older men and women rarely have any longer.

Read the rest: A Last Minute Word to Catechumens « Glory to God for All Things

I do not recall making a profession of faith. Shocking? I wish I had, to be honest. I would speculate that perhaps the fact that we had already been Orthodox in theology and liturgy provoked an economical decision, but later catechumens in our parish were likewise not required to make this confession. I do not know why, really. We certainly were not asked to make so sacramental an act as kissing the cross and the Bible as a seal of our pledge to confess and hold and firmly maintain the Orthodox faith until our death.

I wish I had. I am having no thoughts of apostasy, mind you. But I have been thinking about my place in this vast, Byzantine symphony we call the Church. I think all converts spring back eventually from their initial zeal and fervency. And I have been missing some things about my past. Call it nostalgia. I have no intention of leaving the Church, but it would be nice to point back to such a profession, to a kiss and a vow, and remind myself, “I promised.”

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 8:11 pm

«— New Technology Helps Asthma Patients
—» It’s journalism, stupid

Spare Some Change

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

Or, Have I Unlearned Everything Doctor Hurlow Taught Me in Advanced English Composition?

Earlier today, I was helping my brother write an essay for his application package to a film school in Nashville, Watkins Film School. I discussed basic strategies for structuring an essay, such as the inverted triangle introductory paragraph with thesis, three points with a paragraph each, and summary conclusion. Other structures could be found, but we don’t have time for a seminar in creative writing. His first draft is full of promise, but it lacks structure. So I commended him for having great ideas but assured him that every writer revises his work several times. As I said this, I realized that blogging has changed my writing habits, and I determined that something should be done about it.

When I first started blogging almost five years ago, I was very happy for the opportunity to write nearly every day. Professional writers often say that a daily habit is crucial to developing and nourishing good writing skills. That has slipped over the years. Many of my recent posts are simply passing along links to other sites. Other posts are short complaints or status updates. Writing is no longer something I do daily. I want to change that.

As I discussed structure with my brother, I realized that I usually give very little thought to structure in my articles. Perhaps logical development has become a habit for me, such that structure is completely natural. If that is the case, contemplating the structure of my articles will only strengthen my writing style and ability. As I thought about structure, I realized that I am poorly versed in other possible structures, other than the inverted triangle of journalism. I want to change that, too.

Most importantly, I wondered if this slovenliness has caused my writing to be less powerful and interesting than it could be. In turn, this prompted me to think about whether my content is interesting or useful to my readers. Google Analytics data shows that nearly 75% of my visitors are reading my site for the first time. Only 25% of those who read my writing think it is interesting enough to return. My top hit is a spooky car advertisement video; it may be asking too much to expect more than 25% of its visitors to return when the rest of my site is about Orthodox Christianity and miscellanea. This area needs more examination, but I want to change it, too.

I intentionally wrote this article with the basic structure I spoke of earlier. The goal was to give it a structure — any structure — as an exercise in writing. I want to change some things about my writing, and frequency, structure, and content are good places to consider improvement. We shall see if it produces any changes in my site statistics.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 9:17 pm

«— Commenting
—» Of Red, White, and Blue

Protected: eHarmony Refuses to Take My Case

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 11:24 pm

«— Check Your Computer for 2007 Daylight Saving Time – Fri, March 09, 2007 – WorldTimZone
—» A Warming Consensus

Love is the Only Gospel

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

This sounds familiar, not because I was gay and now I’m notstruggled with same-sex attraction and now I’ve found a balance (I’ve always been straight), but because this is why I became Orthodox (I was Roman Catholic at the time). Of course, most Orthodox parishes would never have treated me the way I was treated at St. Athanasius, so I would still be Roman today if it weren’t for Fr. D. and Matushka R.

So, if this pricks you about how you treat those with same-sex attraction, excellent. But it may also prick you about how you treat anyone at all.

I care about this so much because I wouldn’t be Christ’s today if it were not for the friendship and love of the Christians in my first Anglican parish, people who knew I was a gay activist, didn’t agree with me about gay sex, and loved me anyway. They knew I had homosexual sex and that I believed it was fine – and they disagreed with me. But they nevertheless invited me to their cookouts, car washes, sporting events, school plays, pot lucks…the whole joyful, chaotic mess of parish and family life and as our friendships deepened they showed me they loved me.

And they told me their stories too. They told me about their own past drug use, their own previous abortions, their own prior womanizing, and their own previous struggles with the Faith and its demands. In short, they made it clear to me that the church universal is a hospital for sinners far more than it is a penthouse for saints.

This was crucial because prior to coming to Trinity, I used to believe that Christians would treat me…well, much as the New Oxford Review appears to believe they should have.

I had a little box of prejudices in which I put “Christians.” Christians, I believed, hated and feared me. Christians would not want to have anything to do with me. Christians believed I could not be trusted with their children.

Read the whole article: Sed Contra: What? Befriend Those People?!

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 4:28 pm

«— Devolopment of the Divine Liturgy
—» Asbury College Names First Woman President

Lenten Dinnner

Link to this post  

Share with your friends and followers:
Share

After being given a light rebuke by my priest last year over my observance of the fast (or the lack thereof), I’m trying again to observe the fast with renewed zeal. This evening, I’m enjoying a bowl of vegetable soup with croutons, a pbj sandwich, and a glass of Gumdale 2005 Shiraz, an Australian vinter I’ve never heard of before. Oh, perhaps that last is not totally lenten. Anywho. I read it on the web.

You see from that Google search above that most everyone who had something to say about the Gumdale 2005 shiraz had something bad to say. Frankly, it does what I wanted: Provide a decent, inexpensive table wine. In reality I wanted a Rosemount Estates shiraz, but there were none that I could find. I really miss Liquor Barn.

Share with your friends and followers:
Share
Share

Filed under: — Basil @ 9:47 pm