Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Fisher King

Another poem, written around the same time as Prodigal. I had been tempted to work more on this one at the time, but reviewing it, I think it's the perfect length. If I ever do a long-form treatment of The Matter of Britain, it will probably be prose.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Little Lyricism/A Little Night Music

So, I've got a new song up on Soundcloud. I don't usually mention stuff like that because it would take this little barely existent blog off mission. Bonus points to those who can tell me why this belongs on "Music and Orthodoxy".

You get one hint:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

A Little Poetry

A Little Poetry

Hey - a new post thingy. Imagine that.

So, instead of trying anything deep or profound, I decided to aim low. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Giving of Alms

I apologize if I get a tad bit political here.

This is part one of a series of at least two posts on almsgiving. In this first post I will stress the need to give alms and in the next I will meditate on the "hows" of giving alms in a "cashless" society.

Taking care of the poor is one of the foremost duties of a Christian. Long before Christ Himself had anything to say on the subject, the responsibilities of those who have to those who have not were laid forth in the Law. The most often repeated accusation of the Old Testament prophets to the Hebrew people was not their continual fall into idolatry but their refusal to take care of the poor. Our Lord had much to say about caring for the poor - to the point of identifying the poor with Himself (Matthew 25:40). The office of the deacon was instituted primarily for the caring of the poor. St Paul tells us that those who care for the poor "entertain angels unaware" (Hebrews 13:2). The Church Fathers stressed caring for the poor so often that it would be wearisome to hunt down all the citations related to the topic (St John Chrysostom's "On Wealth and Poverty" would be a good place to start). A responsibility to the needy is stressed every Lent for Orthodox Christians. For Western Christians, one can point to St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther, or John Calvin as giving rather strong-worded exhortations on the responsibility of the Christian to the poor.

One of the most used buzz-phrases in modern Christianity is the "personal relation with Christ." While this is most often used to refer to prayer and Bible reading, what Christ Himself tells us (again, in the 25th chapter of Matthew) is that in order to have a personal relationship with Him we must have a personal relationship with others. How we treat family is how we treat Christ. How we treat fellow parishioners is how we treat Christ. And how we treat the poor is how we treat Christ.

Our responsibility to the poor is our own, each as an individual, and not something to be passed on to others. Giving to one's parish is indeed a good thing. Donating to a charity is good as well. Regardless of ones politics, one must admit that those who support welfare have their hearts in the right place. But our personal responsibility to the poor is just that, personal. It is about encountering, not organizations, but persons. A "charity" is an organization, run by people, who may or may not use the funds you donate in the ways you intend. True charity is yourself giving to others out of love - the same love the Only Begotten Son showed when He gave Himself for the world.

This is not to downplay tithing or contributing to charity or voting for a pro-welfare candidate. If your parish has an outreach to the poor, by all means contribute. But this contribution does not absolve you of the personal interaction of giving money to someone who asks for it. That is the point of almsgiving - not setting up some arbitrary monetary limit based upon your income - but personally interacting with another human being who, for whatever reason, is less fortunate than you.

Even if you don't currently have the money to give, give your time. Listen to their story. Pay attention, don't just duck your head and walk past - otherwise you are ignoring not some random stranger but Christ Himself.

Don't judge - that is, don't write off their hard luck to personal choices, no matter how obvious you think those choices might be. So they might spend any money they receive on alcohol or crack. By the standard which you judge you will be judged (Matthew 7:2). How much have you spent on things you don't "need"? How much credit card debt do you currently have? Sure, your poor choices might not have led to you sleeping on the streets, but given the wrong circumstances are you so entirely sure that you'd be able to focus only on "necessities" and not spend at least a little money on frivolous things? Should Christ judge you for every poor choice you make, even (or especially) those not related to money?

If someone asks, and you have the money, for the love of God (literally) give it. If you happen not to be carrying cash but have food, give it. If those options fail, tell that person of some place that will help - if your  parish happens to run an outreach tell them of that. Should you happen to not know of anything, give your time. Acknowledge the person is alive, that they are indeed a person, that because they are a person they are worth listening to, see the image of God in them. Give what you can, even if the only thing you have to offer is a sympathetic ear. "Silver and gold" you might not have (Acts 3:6), but God has most assuredly provided you with something you can give that will benefit the person asking (except for tracts. Those usually do more harm than good), and by giving of what you have you are giving back to God.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Whys and Whats of Truth

Okay, so for a long overdue update to this little corner of the blogosphere I'm going to cheat a little. This post was originally a reply to a question on the OrthodoxChristianity.net forum, the original thread of which can be found here. As will be seen, this is a fairly old (in internet terms) piece, which was (in a redacted form answering only the second part of the question) posted to my Facebook account. I recently came across it again while searching through my online profile in response to a school assignment on how we present ourselves online, and decided to add it to this more search-friendly venue. I have also taken some time to add to and edit the original post. The middle portion is entirely new.

In Response to the Question “How does one differentiate what is true and what is not?”

In some cases we can ascertain what is true by mere observation: 2+2= 4 because every time you take two of something and add another two you end up with four.  This is good for physicists and forensic analysts, assuming all the data is correct (i.e. assuming cops haven't planted that bloody glove or that "universal constants" are in fact universal and not a localized phenomenon of our area of the solar system).

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Stereotypical Conversion Narrative

I promised myself I would never do this. Every Orthodox convert who starts a blog feels the need to go on about their "journey". It's not that I have not been edified by posts such as this, but I always felt my conversion was so typical that any story of it would only be like saying "me too!" The atypical elements are such that I could never recommend the path I took to an inquirer or catachumen. So, I promised myself I would never write the "how I converted post."