The ramblings, rants, and observations of an Orthodox Reactionary. Feel free to look around!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Fasting

"By fasting it is possible both to be delivered from future evils and to enjoy the good things to come. We fell into disease through sin; let us receive healing through repentance, which is not fruitful without fasting." --St. Basil the Great

"And Jesus said to them, 'Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.'" --Matthew 9:15

"And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and the fifth day of the week; but do ye keep your fast on the fourth (Wednesday) and on the preparation (the sixth, i.e, Friday) day." --Didache 8:1-2


Fasting is something that is mentioned, but largely unpracticed by modern American Christians. Indeed, fasting-- self-denial-- seems to run at odds with our entire indulgent, consumer culture. But Jesus clearly says that Christians are to fast. "But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast."

He cannot be speaking of any period other than the Church age; that is, between the first and the second advent. Christians are called to fast now. So why do modern Christians not fast, and when they do, infrequently and inconsistently?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An Announcement

Crossposted from my Facebook account:


So I wrote this note more as an official declaration than anything, although those closest to me already knew the announcement I'm about to make.

I am leaving Western Christianity in general-- and the Churches of Christ in particular, and joining the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Perhaps I should give some background.

I haven't had any huge struggles in my spiritual life recently; no massive existential crisis that left me adrift in a sea of confusion. So you don't have to worry about that. I never doubted Christ, even if I have questioned the hows and whys of certain things. To be honest, I was dealing with a certain amount of dissatisfaction in my personal life and also in what I saw around me. I was not quite the person I wanted to be, but who is? I wasn't entirely comfortable with my Church, but these criticisms were on a more personal level, and church is corporate, not individual. I had always frowned upon people who whined "I'm not getting spiritually fed" and similar criticisms, and tried to make the Church reflect what they wanted. I would not be that person, I decided.

I had also been reading. I had read Athanasius, and Augustine, and occasionally snippets from other early Christians. These men were, beyond a shadow of a doubt, followers of the same God as I. You could see it in their writings. When Athanasius describes how Christ reconciles us to God through his life, death, and resurrection, I knew this man was genuine, and would know more about God-- and know Him better-- than I could ever hope to. When Augustine cried that all men's souls were restless until they found rest in God, I recognized a kindred spirit. I knew that, despite the distance in time and space, Augustine and I worshipped the same God, though he had more certainty and honesty than I could muster.

I also-- slowly, of course-- began to understand that the Christianity of these men looked different than my own. They worshipped differently. Prayed differently. It made me wonder, at times. I suppose you could say I was being prepared. Nudged, bit-by-bit, out of my old patterns of thinking. Other Christian churches were no less valid for different forms of worship, was that not the heart of the first precept of the Stone-Campbell movement? The Churches of Christ hold to three principles: "We are not the only Christians, but we are Christians only." "No creed but Christ, no book but the Bible." "In essentials unity; in opinions liberty; in all things love." I might question some things, but not this. These were good teachings. Not a bad hill to plant your standard on, all things considered. So I resolved to stay where I was, and deal with whatever issues I had personally.

A few months later, I got a wake up call. I had just finished a book by Rodney Stark called "The Victory of Reason". It's a good book; It explains how Western history was pushed in a positive direction by Christianity. I recommend you check it out. Anyway, I was having an online discussion about the book with a friend of mine. We began mentioning how Christianity-- and this is a key point of the book-- has developed over time, how it has changed in certain ways that led to the development of the free market, to the enlightenment, etc.

My friend responded with the assertion that Christ's message has not changed. It doesn't "develop", it doesn't "mature" over time-- it was delivered "once for all". Our duty, he said, was to maintain fidelity to the teachings of Christ and his Apostles, and to share them with others. Nothing more, nothing less. And what he said... *spoke* to me. It seemed to take into account my hesitations, my issues with what I thought, what I believed... It was an authoritative answer, but it shined with truth.

I asked him what Church he went to. He said he didn't merely go to "a" church, but he was in "the" Church, the very one founded at Pentecost. The Orthodox Church. That thread was quickly deleted, but we got together over email. I hammered him with questions. How can you prove that? He pointed to doctrines and practices that hadn't changed since the beginning. Immersion baptism. *BAM*. I knew from my education at KCU that the early believers immersed, and that pouring/sprinkling had been an innovation added later. Score one for the Orthodox Church. There were others. I ordered books. I read. I looked about online, at resources there.

Like the Roman Catholics, they could point to a unbroken lineage to the first century. Unlike the Roman Catholics, however, they could point out that purgatory, indulgences, papal supremacy/infallibility, and other accretions were never adopted by the Orthodox Church, as they were in the West. There was never a Protestant Reformation in the Orthodox Church, as there was nothing to reform.

It was a journey both easy and difficult at the same time. So much was familiar, so much rang true. But other things looked odd and knocked me for a loop. I read the explanations, the apologias for the how and the what and the why of Orthodox faith and practice. And the things I didn't agree with, I admitted were possibly true, as my disagreement stemmed from personal opinion rather than concrete proof.

Looking into history, it was easy to see the wildly different directions East and West took after the first united millennium. The Eastern Orthodox Church changed no essential doctrines. The West did, and often. As I spent months studying, searching, praying... I came to the conclusion that if any Church on Earth could claim to be the New Testament Church, it was the Holy Apostolic Catholic Orthodox Church.

Something you must understand about the denomination I came from. The Churches of Christ seek to return to the New Testament Church. They take the Church described in Scripture, and try as much as is possible to emulate it (with varying levels of success). What I was taught in the Churches of Christ was to respect the earliest believers and to follow their example. They have a deep respect and affection for the first century Church. And it is this respect and affection I had implanted in me. So when it slowly began to dawn on me that the Orthodox Church was not some man-made denomination, that they had successfully kept the faith through persecution and division, through war and peace, that they were the Church of Peter, Paul, Barnabas, Athanasius, Augustine... I knew that I must join. I must become Orthodox.

It is not that the Churches of Christ is bad, or heretical, or anything like that. They have a portion of the truth-- love for the First century Church and for Scripture gets them that far, at least. But I have found the "real thing", the Church which the Churches of Christ (and all other denominations, for that matter), are a dim reflection of. I have found the truth in its fullness, complete and unchanged from the very beginning. I have many family and friends in the Churches of Christ. And I still love all of you, and will go on loving all of you. But I cannot continue on with you, not in the Churches of Christ. Knowing what I now know, I cannot sit in your pews, listen to your sermons (though they teach good things), sing your songs (though they are beautiful). It would be a betrayal. I can no longer embrace the lowest common denominator held to by the Stone-Campbell movement, now that I have seen the wholeness of the truth. I cannot cling to the driftwood of Restorationism, not with the Ark of Salvation plunging through the waves of this world, offering passage to all who would climb aboard.

Some of you may take this as an insult, and as a challenge. It is neither, nor do I intend it to be. But exclusive claims are often taken that way, so I felt I had to make that clear. I am simply trying to explain to everyone who reads this why I am becoming Orthodox, why I am making such a distant journey, in thought and deed and belief.

Feel free to make comments, or ask questions, or say anything else that is on your heart.


And there were comments. All of them were gracious, though some took object with some of the Orthodox Church's claims-- declaring oneself to be the One, Universal, Apostolic, Undivided Church is sure to raise hackles, not only among those who believe their church to be so, but also among those who don't believe in anything other than "denominations". Still, I was appreciative of all the comments, though of course I couldn't agree with all of them.

And this note being what it was, I didn't respond in an "apologetic" fashion, though I think I could have done so. One thing that stuck with me-- surprised me, actually-- was a comment of one of my professors. In it, he said the goal of the Stone-Campbell movement (the source of the "Churches of Christ"/"non-denominational" Christian churches) was to "get back to the beliefs of the early church, but not necessarily all of their practices." This shocked me. You see, I had always been taught the goals of the "Restoration" movement was to restore the early Church. That is, at least, the way it has always been taught.

But here was a professor who admitted-- no slouch to history, he-- that certain practices of the early Church were not admitted into the Churches of Christ. Which ones he is referring to, I do not know. But having researched myself, I know there are many beliefs and practices of the Church which Barton Stone and Alexander Campbell jettisoned as "later additions"-- such as infant baptism, the office of bishop, the Eucharist being the body and blood and not merely "symbol devoid of reality"-- and thus never made it into the "Restored Church".

I think that was the first time I breathed a sigh of relief to be, finally, Orthodox. To rest behind walls built of martyr brick and saint mortar, to know that-- no matter how fierce and all-consuming the storm outside is-- these walls will never fall, because Jesus Christ himself promised that they would not.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two quotes, and a thought.

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself."
--James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788

"Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question."
--Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801

These two quotes from two of America's greatest Founders make the point that only divines are perfect enough to rule man. And since no man is perfect or divine, no man is fit to rule others.

I will go so far as to agree that no one currently living in the United States is fit to rule another-- least of all the sniveling brutes in DC. But Orthodoxy teaches that man can-- through effort and the Grace of God-- achieve theosis, and that that journey begins on earth. And as a man moves closer to God, he becomes more like God-- just, merciful, loving, etc. In short, Orthodoxy teaches that it is possible for man to become someone who IS fit to rule and govern.

Do you agree with the conclusion stated above? Would such warnings as outlined by Madison and Jefferson no longer apply to our unnamed Saint? How could one find such a person? Are there, perhaps, times and places in history where there was such thing as a "just king"?

Food for thought.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A review of "Paul"--- spoilers ahead.

Saw "Paul" with Seth Rogen, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.

I want to preface this by saying-- I love Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I own like, every movie they've made. Shaun of the Dead was hilarious, though I far preferred Hot Fuzz. So a nerd film? By two of the biggest and proudest nerds making movies today? Color me STOKED.

First off, the good parts. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of sci-fi references in here. The Redneck bar where the band is playing the Cantina song from Star Wars? Awesome. The alien ship being shaped like the guitar spaceship from that one music album? Hilarious. The Indiana Jones warehouse, Paul's talk with Spielberg, etc. Too many to list. Great performances from Jason Bateman and Bill Hader,especially Hader's face heel turn and Bateman's reveal.

Now for the bad. Spoiler alert.

I understand that, as a Christian, there's a certain amount of mockery of my religion that is unavoidable and even expected from certain sectors of Hollywood. We're a target that sits on our hands, whereas attacking the other two big monotheistic religions will get you litigated or worse. Add in that fact the Jesus promised we'd be hated for our beliefs, plus the fact most of the country is nominally Christian at best, and you have a recipe for resignation to the fact that there will be something in every comedy film that takes a cheap shot at my faith. It's just the price of doing business (that business being watching movies).

So I don't resent the fact that Pegg and Frost mocked my religion; I knew it was coming when I saw the sign for "Pearly Gates RV Park." What I didn't expect was that it be so relentless, so vicious-- and that it would be so poorly shoe-horned in.

So we have the boys roll into a trailer park, where there are met by Kristen Wiig playing Hollywood's impression of a Protestant Evangelical Christian. Our damsel in distress is blind in one eye and wears a t-shirt with a pistol-packing Jesus blowing the brains out of Charles Darwin, with the totally straight-forward message "Evolve This!" printed beneath. When Pegg and Frost ask why Jesus would shoot Darwin, she replies that it is because of "his blasphemous theory of evolution". She then continues, to their (and presumably our) incredulity, that God "intelligently designed" everything in a six-day creation, and that the world is only "4000 years old." (Apparently Nick and Simon fail to realize that a creative intelligence and evolution aren't mutually compatible-- their lack of subject-matter knowledge will be touched on later.)

Enter the alien hero. "That's garbage!" he says. "If God exists, how do you explain me!" Our Christian parody faints dead away, and upon waking later and finding out its not a dream, she drops to her knees, clasps her hands, starts bellowing "Amazing Grace" at the top of her lungs and speaking in tongues. Exasperated by her refusal to acknowledge whats in front of her, Paul finally-- in a moment that may qualify for an entry in "Fridge Horror" on TVTropes, places his hand on her forehead and beams all his knowledge into her mind. We see a montage of scenes that look like they were pulled straight from "Cosmos", mixed with images of slowly evolving creatures. From this point in the movie on, Kristen Wiig's character is no longer a theist, let alone a Christian one.

She flees the RV, and Simon Pegg's character follows her, smitten with her as he is. Cue a long discussion as she is forced to reconcile what she"knows" with what she has believed. Kristen Wiig paraphrases Dostoyevsky's maxim that "Without God, all things are permissible." Pegg denies this, but never explains exactly why morality still matters. It just does. (An interesting mirror of her now dead faith-- Pegg knows atheism can still be moral the same way she knew God was real-- belief without empirical evidence. I doubt, however, this is intentional on the part of Pegg and Frost.)

She returns to the RV, and Paul asks her to take her glasses off. One lens is blacked out, and this is because she is blind in one eye. She removes the glasses, and Paul (whom we have seen resurrect a dead bird to eat it) heals her a la ET: The Extraterrestrial. Paul quickly answers her awed whisper of "how did you do that?" with something to the effect of "a couple million years of evolutionary mutation, sweetie." Presumably to beat us silly retrogrades over the head with the Aesop that God did nothing for her, while the atheist alien healed her no strings attached.

Now remember that all of this occurs while they are being chased by government agents bent on killing Paul and anyone with him. An intimidating Jason Bateman with a "do whatever I want and get away with it badge" is on their heels-- in fact, the scene just prior has him and his bumbling FBI sidekicks at the very RV park they just abandoned. Yes. Death in the form of shadowy government agents is literally at their heels, but they have time to stop the RV, spend an inordinate amount of time "curing" a Christian of her silly mental shackles and engaging in the attendant philosophical debates, and with no sense of urgency at all or with no consequences.

It really kind of broke the pacing of the film, which until this point was "slipping out of dodge just ahead of the posse" every single time. From then on I had trouble taking the character's urgency all that seriously. "Quick , we gotta get out of here!" Why? I would think. You're just gonna lose them quickly enough for whatever detours you want to take from here on out.

Later, we meet more of the same Christian bashing, as Kristen Wiig refers to her religious father as "these people", she thanks Paul for "freeing her", and Paul angrily dismisses the "God be with you!" of Wiig's father with a "Yeah, whatever dude." All of these scenes could have been dropped from the film with absolutely no impact on the plot. They don't contribute at all to the main plot, either by aiding the villains and increasing tension, or giving the good guys an extra "ace in the hole" to help complete their mission. Completely superfluous. It seems that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who penned the story, had a message they wanted to get across and were willing to do whatever it takes-- even force it in to the detriment of the film itself-- to do so.

There's also an issue that has less to do with the film itself and more a lack of knowledge on the part of Frost and Pegg. Namely, the complete misunderstanding of Christianity, Intelligent Design, Aliens, Evolution, and where those things meet. In interviews, the two Brits have apparently made known the fact that the very idea of aliens disproves God's existence. Not only is this absurd, (as anyone familiar with C.S. Lewis's "Space Trilogy" can attest), but it also displays a lack of understanding of Christianity.

I am aware that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have stated in interviews that Christians shouldn't be offended by their poking fun at a "particular brand" of the religion, not only because it is fiction but also because "if you aren't one of those Christians then its not aimed at you." Unfortunately for them, I'm not so dumb as to fall for that ruse. Sure, I'm not the real life version of Kristen Wiig's character. I'm not Catholic either. But I get offended when they get bashed, because the differences between creationist Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox are practically nonexistent from the outside looking in. Those outside Christianity looking at Christianity itself see essentially the same thing across the board. So anytime the Catholic Church or a young-earth, Bible thumping creationist is portrayed on TV, the target is all Christians everywhere and for all time-- those two "types" are simply the most familiar to audiences-- and those who make the movies who've never in their lives visited "flyover country".

In short, Paul was a good film ruined by an anti-Christian subplot, said subplot also serving to detract from the main story as a whole. Not telling you to skip it, just be aware of what you're shelling out $7.75 for.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why read the Church Fathers? (or) Is The Scripture Self-Interpreting?

30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”

34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus." --Acts 8:30-35

This is wh I read the Church Fathers. And what they have to say on any given passage is far more accurate or important than what any modern theologian has to say-- or what I think about it, for that matter.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

C.S. Lewis on the similarities of Science and Magic

He means, of course, magic in the occultic sense, not magic in the good, "Narnian" sense.

"There is something which unites magic and applied science while separating both from the wisdom of earlier ages. For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique; and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious—such as digging up and mutilating the dead.

If we compare the chief trumpeter of the new era (Bacon) with Marlowe's Faustus, the similarity is striking. You will read in some critics that Faustus has a thirst for knowledge. In reality, he hardly mentions it. It is not truth he wants from the devils, but gold and guns and girls. `All things that move between the quiet poles shall be at his command' and `a sound magician is a mighty god'. In the same spirit Bacon condemns those who value knowledge as an end in itself: this, for him, is to use as a mistress for pleasure what ought to be a spouse for fruit. The true object is to extend Man's power to the performance of all things possible. He rejects magic because it does not work; but his goal is that of the magician. In Paracelsus the characters of magician and scientist are combined. No doubt those who really founded modern science were usually those whose love of truth exceeded their love of power; in every mixed movement the efficacy comes from the good elements not from the bad. But the presence of the bad elements is not irrelevant to the direction the efficacy takes. It might be going too far to say that the modern scientific movement was tainted from its birth: but I think it would be true to say that it, was born in an unhealthy neighbourhood and at an inauspicious hour. Its triumphs may have-been too rapid and purchased at too high a price: reconsideration, and something like repentance, may be required." -- C.S. Lewis, "The Abolition of Man"

His book "The Abolition of Man" can be found here.

Something to reflect on this Saturday Morning...

“It is proper and right to sing to You, bless You, praise You, thank You and worship You in all places of Your dominion; for You are God ineffable, beyond comprehension, invisible, beyond understanding, existing forever and always the same; You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit. You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for blessings seen and unseen that have been bestowed upon us. We also thank You for this liturgy which You are pleased to accept from our hands, even though You are surrounded by thousands of Archangels and tens of thousands of Angels, by the Cherubim and Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, soaring with their wings..." -- From the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

Friday, February 25, 2011

I... I have no words. Center for Bio-Ethical Reform. NOT WORK SAFE, OR CHILD SAFE, OR WEAK STOMACH SAFE!

Lord have mercy.


"Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does." --Tertullian, "De Anima", 27

Monday, February 21, 2011

Frederic Bastiat

"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain."

"When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law."

From his timeless 1850 classic, "The Law".

Legitimate Government

First, John C. Calhoun on the line between representative government and tyranny.

"Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or a consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting ultimately on the solid basis of the sovereignty of the States or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, and violence, and force must finally prevail. Let it never be forgotten that, where the majority rules without restriction, the minority is the subject; and that, if we should absurdly attribute to the former the exclusive right of construing the Constitution, there would be, in fact, between the sovereign and subject, under such a government, no Constitution, or, at least, nothing deserving the name, or serving the legitimate object of so sacred an instrument." - John C. Calhoun

And the John Locke, explaining how to deal with a tyrannical state.

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."
- John Locke

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Christian faces death in Afghanistan

Said Musa is a 45 year old Christian man in Afghanistan who faces death for believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. He wrote a letter to Barack Obama, asking for help. There is no one who is willing to be his lawyer in court.

Lord, strengthen, keep, and comfort your servant. Grant him relief, and deliver him from his captors. Amen.

"The man who follows Christ in solitary mourning is greater than he who praises Christ amid the congregation of men." --St. Isaac of Syria

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Atlas Shrugged trailer!

Looks good.

Switzerland, F**k Yeah!

Switzerland Rejects Tighter Gun Controls from the BBC

Despite months of biased anti-gun newspaper articles and "research" from "non-profit organizations", the Swiss people declared they will stand for their RKBA. Wonderful. Anyone notice how the Francophone cantons are the ones that voted heavily for stricter victim disarmament measures?

Disappointing, that so many Swiss can buy into the "less guns= less crime" swill.

Man goes on Stabbing Spree in NYC

Suspect in NYC stabbing spree goes to court

NEW YORK – A man accused of going on a bloody 28-hour rampage through New York City was expected to appear in court Sunday, a day after he was tackled on a subway train by police.

Maksim Gelman, 23, was to be arraigned in Brooklyn Criminal Court in the deaths of four people, including his stepfather, a female acquaintance and her mother, and a complete stranger he ran over with a car, prosecutors said.

A massive manhunt ended Saturday morning after he randomly stabbed a passenger on a train as it passed beneath Times Square. It's not clear if he has an attorney, and it was possible the court hearing could be moved back to Monday.

The violent spree started just after 5 a.m. Friday, when police say Gelman snapped during an argument over the use of his mother's Lexus sedan. His stepfather, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, intervened and was stabbed to death at their apartment in Brooklyn. Police found the 54-year-old's body in his home. His mother was uninjured.

Later that morning, Gelman turned up at the home of a 20-year-old acquaintance, Yelena Bulchenko, and stabbed to death her mother, 56-year-old Anna Bulchenko. When Yelena arrived home at about 4 p.m., she found her mother dead in a pool of blood and called 911. But Gelman was waiting for her there, chased her outside and stabbed her 11 times, authorities said.

He sped away in his mom's car to another part of Brooklyn, where he rear-ended a Pontiac, then stabbed the driver when he confronted Gelman about the crash, police said. The driver was slashed three times in the chest but survived and was stable at an area hospital.

Gelman left the man bleeding on the street and drove off in his Pontiac, but smacked into 62-year-old pedestrian Stephen Tanenbaum, who died from his injuries. He abandoned the car later, engine running, in a private driveway, not far from a freight railroad where he was once caught spray-painting graffiti, said police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Police hunted him, but the fugitive disappeared until just before 1 a.m. Saturday, when police say he confronted and stabbed a livery cab driver in Brooklyn, north of where the other incidents occurred. Shortly afterward, he approached a couple in a Nissan, stabbing the man multiple times in the hand before hijacking the car, police said. Both men survived.

Just after 8 a.m. Saturday, passengers on a southbound No. 1 train in upper Manhattan noticed that a man on the train matched photos of Gelman they had seen in newspapers.

One passenger on the train got off at West 96th Street, approached officers on the platform and told them that a man fitting Gelman's description knocked a newspaper out of her hand, saying, "Do you believe what they're writing about me?" according to police

Gelman jumped off the train at the West 34th Street station, crossed the tracks and hopped on a northbound No. 3 train, where he sliced a passenger, the commissioner said.

Officers were in the driver's compartment of the train looking for him on the tracks, when Gelman made his way up to the driver's door and pounded on it, "claiming that he was the police," Kelly said.

One of the officers threw open the door and wrestled Gelman to the ground, knocking the knife from his hand, Kelly said.

The Ukraine-born Gelman and his mother became naturalized U.S. citizens about five years ago, Kelly said. He lived with his family in a predominantly Eastern European section of Brooklyn. Gelman was known to be a troublemaker and has a criminal history, but the arrests were mostly non-violent, for criminal possession of a controlled substance, criminal mischief or graffiti, though some of his arrest records were sealed.

Gelman made some incoherent statements to police after his arrest, including "she had to die," but it's not clear to whom he was referring, Kelly said.

Mayor Bloomberg really has no choice at this point but to ban/regulate cars and knives. Or he could, you know, come to the realization that objects don't cause/control behavior. But methinks that might be asking far too much.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Orthodox Way" Chapter Three: God as Creator

Been reading this book by Bishop Kallistos Ware. I really recommend you pick it up. Doing one chapter a week; reporting on cool things that stand out.

“If nothing compelled God to create, then why did he do so? Insofar as such a question admits of an answer, our reply must be: God’s motive in creation is his love. Rather than say that he created the universe out of nothing, we should say that he created it out of his own self, which is love. We should think, not of God the Manufacturer or of God the Craftsman, but of God the Lover[….] To love means to share, as the doctrine of the Trinity has so clearly shown us: God is not just one but one-in-three, because he is a communion of persons who share love with one another. The circle of divine love, however, has not remained closed. […] By voluntary choice God created the world in love, so that there might be besides himself other beings to participate in the life and love that are his.” –on creatio ex nihilo


“God alone has the cause and source of his being in himself; all created things have their cause and source, not in themselves, but in him. God alone is self-sourced; all created things are God-sourced, God-rooted, finding their origin and fulfillment in him. God alone is noun; all created things are adjectives.”


“In saying that God is Creator of the world, we do not mean merely that he set things in motion by an initial act ‘at the beginning’, after which they go on functioning by themselves. God is not just a cosmic clockmaker, who winds up the machinery and then leaves it to keep ticking on its own. On the contrary, creation is continual. If we are to be accurate when speaking of creation, we should not use the past tense but the continuous present. We should say, not ‘God made the world, and me in it,’ but ‘God is making the world, and me in it, here and now, at this moment and always.’ Creation is not an event in the past, but a relationship in the present. If God did not continue to exert his creative will at every moment, the universe would immediately lapse into non-being; nothing could exist for a single second if God did not will it to be. As Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow puts it, ‘All creatures are balanced upon the creative word of God, as if upon a bridge of diamond; above them is the abyss of divine infinitude, below them that of their own nothingness.’” – on Deism


“Human beings are not counters that can be exchanged for one another, or replaceable parts of a machine. Each, being free, is unrepeatable: and each, being unrepeatable, is infinitely precious. Human persons are not to be measured quantitatively: we have no right to assume that one particular person is of more value than any other particular person, or that ten persons must necessarily be of more value than one. Such calculations are an offense to authentic personhood. Each is irreplaceable, and therefore each must be treated as an end in his or her self, and never as a means to some further end. Each is to be regarded not as object but as subject.” – on human dignity

I really, really recommend this book.

Stan Lee, You Have Now Redeemed Yourself in my Eyes

From the DVD commentary of the first Iron Man:

“It was the height of the Cold War. The readers – the young readers – if there was one thing they hated it was war, it was the military, or, as Eisenhower called it, the military-industrial complex. So I got a hero who represented that to the hundredth degree. He was a weapons manufacturer. He was providing weapons for the army. He was rich. He was an industrialist. But he was good-looking guy and he was courageous… I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like – that none of our readers would like – and shove him down their throats and make them like him"

The only thing that would be more awesome is if Tony Stark read "Atlas Shrugged". Dude's practically a Randian hero (rich, good-looking, hated for it), except he doesn't have the misathropic views of Ayn Rand when it comes to charity and-- well, other human beings.

Problem, hippies?

Dostoyevsky on Atheism and Loving Humilty

The first quote is from Pious Fabrications:

"That science which has become a great power in the last century, has analyzed everything divine handed down to us in the holy books. After this cruel analysis the learned of this world have nothing left of all that was sacred. But they have only analyzed the parts and overlooked the whole, and indeed their blindness is marvelous. Yet the whole still stands steadfast before their eyes, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Has it not lasted nineteen centuries? Is it not still living, a moving power in the individual soul and in the masses of people? It is still strong and living even in the souls of atheists, who have destroyed everything! For even those who have renounced Christianity and attack it still follow the Christian ideal. And neither their subtlety nor the ardor of their hearts has been able to create a higher ideal of man and of virtue than the ideal given by Christ of old. When it has been attempted, the result has been only grotesque."
--Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, p. 171

And this second Dostoyevsky quote is from "The Orthodox Way" by Bishop Kallistos Ware:

"At some thoughts a man stands perplexed, above all at the sight of human sin, and he wonders whether to combat it by force or by humble love. Always decide: 'I will combat it by humble love'. If you resolve on that once and for all, you can conquer the whole world. Loving humility is a terrible force: it is the strongest of all things, and there is nothing else like it." --Father Zosima, "The Brothers Karamazov"

It's sitting on my shelf. I really ought to pick it up and read it sometime.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Anti-lifers in a froth over modified and permanent Hyde Amendment

Washington Post: Legislative proposal puts abortion rights supporters on alert

"The bill, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, would make permanent several provisions that have been law for years but require annual renewal by Congress. It is a top priority of Republican leaders who took control of the House after the November elections.

The most well-known provision that would become permanent under the bill is the Hyde Amendment, which prevents some federally funded health-care programs from covering abortions. For years, it has allowed exemptions in cases of rape and incest, and when the life of the woman is threatened.

Under the proposed language, however, rape becomes "forcible rape." Critics say the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats."

And of course this has anti-life types foaming at the mouth. Why, I wonder? No doubt they'll give very impassioned speeches which include the words "women's rights" and "freedom to choose" and other phrases carefully chosen in order to obscure the fact that said "choice" includes the forced death of another human being. But what it all comes down to is taxpayer funding of abortion. That's it. The Republicans (and one Democrat) aren't outlawing abortion; they're pushing it one step closer to going off of "welfare".

Seriously. If you look at the law this is the abortion folks blowing this shit out of proportion. Right now every US taxpayer pays for a doctor to shove a vacuum into a woman's uterus and rip apart a developing human being and suck it up.

Government should not be paying for any of this. If there's a market for it Planned Parenthood should be able to make ends meet. But the truth is they can't. The truth is Planned Parenthood needs to live off the US taxpayer (the REAL parasite in the abortion debate) because their little social eugenics experiment couldn't survive without mountains of federal cash.

"We're too big to fail!" they cry. Well fuck you. I didn't buy it when Goldman Sachs and GM said it. I sure as hell don't buy it when the little Mengeles of PP say it.

I'll go ahead and say this bill doesn't go far enough. All fed funding for abortion should cease.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: We Are Doomed

So I read this book about a month or so ago by John Derbyshire called We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. I read it and quite enjoyed it, and promised I'd do a book review.

And then I found this article by the same author-- which just happens to be the article which he later expanded into the full length book. So rather than tell you what I think about the book or to try and reinvent the wheel explaining it, I will link to the article itself.

If you enjoy what you read, by all means pick up We are Doomed by John Derbyshire.


"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." --Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Part of the reason for my abortion post earlier...

Was this.

What's the difference, I'd like to ask the pro-abortion types, between what this guy did and an everyday, common abortion?

A: Location, location, location!


Happy Birthday, Robert E. Lee

"He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward."
— Benjamin Harvey Hill of Georgia referring to Robert Edward Lee during an address before the Southern Historical Society in Atlanta, Georgia on February 18, 1874

Happy Birthday to an American Hero.

Margaret Sanger on Abortion and Eugenics

From the founder of Planned Parenthood herself:

“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

Margaret Sanger (editor). The Woman Rebel, Volume I, Number 1. Reprinted in Woman and the New Race. New York: Brentanos Publishers, 1922.

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.”
Margaret Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. Page 12.

“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”

Margaret Sanger’s December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon’s Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

“Eugenic sterilization is an urgent need … We must prevent multiplication of this bad stock.”

Margaret Sanger, April 1933 Birth Control Review.

“Eugenics is … the most adequate and thorough avenue to the solution of racial, political and social problems."

Margaret Sanger. “The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda.” Birth Control Review, October 1921, page 5.

Absolutely horrendous.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Does anyone take the ATF seriously anymore?

They shouldn't.

The airsoft folks and the reporter are right-- there isn't any way to turn an airsoft rifle into anything capable of firing a real bullet. What people seem to forget is that a bullet is, in essence, a controlled explosion in your hands directed down a steel tube (specifically built, as is the bolt, chamber, firing pin, etc., for such a purpose). The plastic used in even top-of-the-line airsoft toys is not built to withstand those pressures.

That said, airsoft can be a fine way to train you and your friends in squad tactics, movement, etc. Besides the danger of swinging loaded weapons around a field, forest or building with your friends, there's also the "militia" element. Simply put, if you put on full battle-rattle and brought your FAL or SKS out into the woods to practice fire and manuever tactics, its gonna scare the shit outta some people that don't know any better. But if you do the same with airsoft rifles in hand, people will just look at you odd and go about their business. I will leave my ire for the ATF for another post.

"The fact is that the average man's love of liberty is nine-tenths imaginary, exactly like his love of sense, justice, and truth. He is not actually happy when free; he is uncomfortable, a bit alarmed, and intolerably lonely. Liberty is not a thing for the great masses of men. It is the exclusive possession of a small and disreputable minority, like knowledge, courage, and honor. It takes a special sort of man to understand and enjoy liberty-- and he is usually an outlaw in democratic societies." -H. L. Mencken