Saturday, April 5, 2014

Theology and Me

I used to think of myself as a theo buff. In some ways I suppose I still am. My head still likes to latch on to interesting questions and controversies. But, on the whole, I find I have much less patience for such things nowadays. I used to fervently read Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog Glory to God for All Things and other related items. Bishop Kallistos's works, or Fr. Thomas Hopko's or Vladimir Lossky's or any of the works of the saints. And I'm not saying any of these things are in any way bad. I still love them all and appreciate them, and may return to them in due time. I have a special appreciation for them insofar as they helped bring me into the Orthodox faith. Still, at this point in my life I find that I can't read them very easily anymore. My attitude towards theology in general and any questions in particular has come around to a very simple praise: "Pray, motherfucker." Ultimately that's more in line with the thrust of Orthodox theology at any rate. St. Silouan mentioned: "If you are a theologian, your prayer is pure. If your prayer is pure, then you are a theologian."

 I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from reading anything. But, in the end of it all, pray. Knowledge, truth, theological clarity, all are borne of the union with God that is only created with prayer. Prayer is the weapon, the path, the anchor. For every half hour you read, try to pray for an equal time. Ultimately you'll benefit far more. And yes, it's cliche as hell. But, as Mr. Pratchett noted, cliches are the "hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication". It's cliche because we talk about it a lot but practice it little. It's cliche because we'd rather trivialize it. And we trivialize prayer because it is terrifying. It is war of the harshest kind.
“This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.”- St. Anthony the Great

Still, God strengthens us for our combat. "The Kingdom of God is taken by force." The violence proper to the Christian is against our own evil. Hand to sword everyone, and all that.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Extended Adolescence and the Quest for Youth

Much has been said about our society's issue with our youth not growing up fast enough. Our teens are acting more like children, and our eighteen to twenty-somethings are acting like teenagers. They're unrealistic, impetuous, and controlled by immature emotions. They put off the traditional trappings of adulthood as long as they can. Often this is attributed to a certain amount of pandering on the part of adults. A certain softness in parenting approaches. And while I think these are -to a certain degree- the cause of extended adolescence I don't think these are the only causes. (Note that I'm not commenting on whether or not extended adolescence is a good thing or not, or on parenting styles. That's a completely different article. )

Our culture is obsessed with youth. Creams, exercises, treatments, spas: all aimed at making us all look and feel younger. There are businesses based around youth, lifestyles aimed at it, champions promoting it. Youth promotion surrounds us. But if everyone is trying to push back the clock, what does that mean for the young ones of our culture? I doubt that "youth-promotion" doesn't extend to behavior. I'm told that thirty is the new twenty. What does that imply about our twenty-year-olds?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why Businesses Tend to Oppose Job Creation

Because it doesn't suit them. It's like real estate: it's always either a buyer's market or a seller's market. Right now there are far more people who need jobs than there are jobs, and that really benefits those already established businesses. They can take their pick. They don't have to make themselves too attractive: if you don't want the job, then someone else does. The current labor market also castrates unions. Striking becomes a whole lot more effective if the strikers are confident that they can find employment elsewhere, and if there's not a bunch of willing workers ready to take the strikers' place. On the other hand -and this is a situation that benefits far more people- if there are more jobs available then laborers the circumstances flip. Suddenly jobs have to make themselves attractive to workers, rather than the other way around. Suddenly business owners' are more concerned about irritating their workers. Unless it's the business itself offering the job, new jobs just restrict a business's power.

Right now the power is in the hands of the smaller group, the owners. If there were more jobs than there are workers then the balance of power shifts. Workers begin to dictate the terms of their employment, rather then the other way around.

Broadly speaking, this is one of the many reasons why capitalism breeds socialism. It's simply a matter of which system most benefits the majority of the population.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Free Stuff

So...I've been thinking lately that the idea of "paying for things" might be a bad one. I'm kind of super enthusiastic about people doing things/ giving things away for free. So, without further ado:

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Things I have that you can have if you want them:

A small aloe plant: my aloe plant has gotten huge and I need to split it. You'll need to provide your own pot and soil.

Any of a number of Terry Pratchett books I don't read anymore.

A USB keyboard

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Services:

Martial Arts: if there's anyone out there that would like to learn, send me a message and we'll see if we can work something out.

Philosophy/Logic: Anyone feels like learning a bit about western philosophy or formal logic, I can help.

Cooking: I can cook a little so if anyone out there has no idea what they're doing let me know. It's not going to be cordon bleu or anything, but if you need to learn how to make a stir fry or a simple sauce I can help

(These might be a tad limited until I'm married)
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Requests:

If anyone out there has potting soil I could use it

If anyone out there knows French I'd like to learn.
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So, yeah. To hell with capitalism and all that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Blight of the Modern Wedding

I am to be wed soon. A joyous occasion, to be sure. But as the date approaches, and I spend more and more time in arranging the events to come, I have realized that how the modern idea of marriage - at least in America- has acquired a curse. It is a curse of pride, and consumerism, and self-worship. The wedding industry appeals to a certain concept of the "ideal wedding", placing an enormous amount of pressure of the bride-to-be. From a young age, females are inundated with images of the nigh mythical wedding, and they attempt to live up to this ideal, something that requires a Herculean effort on her part. At the same time, the engagement period is a spiritually harmful time for the potential bride, since it carries with it the idea that this is a time when the bride-to-be is entitled to excessive self-focus. The average wedding today is some kind of bizarre combination of a right-of-passage/demonstration of worth. Our sense of self worth is somewhat tied to what kind of wedding we can have, and we feel judged if we cannot deliver. A great deal of this problem stems from a much broader issue: the pressure on middle to low income people to emulate the rich. Somewhere along the line rich folk started having more and more extravagant weddings, but they could afford to do things like hire a wedding planner. Those with more humble bank accounts have to simply do the best they can with what they have, even if it never quite feels like enough.

The average wedding today costs $30,000. Take a moment to let that sink in. That's absurd, Ultimately, weddings aren't about jumping through hoops or putting on a grand show. And they're not excuses for the bridal couple to feel entitled to inordinate amounts of special treatment. Something I rather appreciate about the Orthodox wedding sacrament is that, ultimately, the couple is not the center of attention, or at least not in isolation. It's a church service, filled with prayer and worship, and God is center-stage. It is about why God has instituted marriage, and His blessings upon marriage. Ultimately the service is the means through which God mystically unites two souls. Erin and I are going to do our best to have a beautiful wedding and an enjoyable reception, but we refuse to bow to ludicrous popular wedding expectations. That's not what we're about, and it's not what weddings are about.