Monday, July 25, 2011

Women Being FORCED To Convert To Islam

An article from The Orthodox Church, an Orthodox oriented Media Network, reports on the state of Islamic violence against Christianity in Egypt. What is extra disturbing and outrageous of this Islamic crime is the increased use of sexual abuse and torture against Christian women for the purpose of forced conversion.

The complete outrage of the attacks, which I'm sorry to say aren't isolated, unsubstantial, nor sparse, is a reality of an Islamic country who will additionally not provide any protection, of any kind, under the law from these attacks.

You may say Islam is a peaceful religion. However, I'll call your bluff against the violent, unchanging, historical face, that is present from Islamic thinking and communities.

Jean Maher, president of the France-based Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization, said that nearly 800 Coptic Christian women have been kidnapped, raped and forced to convert to Islam since 2009.
That number has only increased since the revolution in February, Maher said.
He said that before the revolution, Muslim kidnappers would have to “seduce” their victims. Now, they “just put them in a taxi and go away with them.”
Christian women are an obvious target because they do not wear a veil, which makes them easily identifiable as Christian, said Clark.
Clark said some women are no longer leaving their homes, for fear of being attacked.
Clark and Maher suggested that one of the greatest contributors to the abductions is the inactivity of police.
“Dozens of family members are reporting this,” he said. “They are very badly treated by police.”
Maher said most families of victims are already reluctant to come forward because taking away a woman’s virginity also strips the family of its honor. He said families of victims can also be accused of neglecting their daughters.
“As these victims recognize their voices aren’t being heard, they will no longer come forward,” Clark said.
Clark suggested this leads to a “cloak of silence, which only exasperates the problem.”
Read More. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Why Orthodox Men Love Church

      This very good article from a few years ago, out of the Antiochian magazine "The Word". It describes part of the cultural problem with Western church services, and how these differences are manifest in male attendance and participation within the different traditions. It presents a cultural argument to the Eastern tradition, and I believe to be a strong and accurate argument, especially for men.

"Many men may not love church, but Orthodox men do."

Photo by
photo by
In a time when churches of every description are faced with Vanishing Male Syndrome, men are showing up at Eastern Orthodox churches in numbers that, if not numerically impressive, are proportionately intriguing. This may be the only church which attracts and holds men in numbers equal to women. As Leon Podles wrote in his 1999 book, "The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity," "The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to."

Rather than guess why this is, I emailed a hundred Orthodox men, most of whom joined the Church as adults. What do they think makes this church particularly attractive to men? Their responses, below, may spark some ideas for leaders in other churches, who are looking for ways to keep guys in the church.

The term most commonly cited by these men was "challenging." Orthodoxy is "active and not passive." "It's the only church where you are required to adapt to it, rather than it adapting to you." "The longer you are in it, the more you realize it demands of you."

The "sheer physicality of Orthodox worship" is part of the appeal. Regular days of fasting from meat and dairy, "standing for hours on end, performing prostrations, going without food and water [before communion]...When you get to the end you feel that you've faced down a challenge." "Orthodoxy appeals to a man's desire for self-mastery through discipline."

"In Orthodoxy, the theme of spiritual warfare is ubiquitous; saints, including female saints, are warriors. Warfare requires courage, fortitude, and heroism. We are called to be 'strugglers' against sin, to be 'athletes' as St. Paul says. And the prize is given to the victor. The fact that you must 'struggle' during worship by standing up throughout long services is itself a challenge men are willing to take up."

A recent convert summed up, "Orthodoxy is serious. It is difficult. It is demanding. It is about mercy, but it's also about overcoming oneself. I am challenged in a deep way, not to 'feel good about myself' but to become holy. It is rigorous, and in that rigor I find liberation. And you know, so does my wife."

Clear Disciplines. Several mentioned that they really appreciated having clarity about the content of these challenges and what they were supposed to do. "Most guys feel a lot more comfortable when they know what's expected of them." "Orthodoxy presents a reasonable set of boundaries." "It's easier for guys to express themselves in worship if there are guidelines about how it's supposed to work—especially when those guidelines are so simple and down-to-earth that you can just set out and start doing something."

Male choir, seminarians."The prayers the Church provides for us — morning prayers, evening prayers, prayers before and after meals, and so on — give men a way to engage in spirituality without feeling put on the spot, or worrying about looking stupid because they don't know what to say."

They appreciate learning clear-cut physical actions that are expected to form character and understanding. "People begin learning immediately through ritual and symbolism, for example, by making the sign of the cross. This regimen of discipline makes one mindful of one's relation to the Trinity, to the Church, and to everyone he meets."

A Goal. Men also appreciate that this challenge has a goal: union with God. One said that in a previous church "I didn't feel I was getting anywhere in my spiritual life (or that there was anywhere to get to — I was already there, right?) But something, who knew what, was missing. Isn't there SOMETHING I should be doing, Lord?"

Orthodoxy preserves and transmits ancient Christian wisdom about how to progress toward this union, which is called "theosis." Every sacrament or spiritual exercise is designed to bring the person, body and soul, further into continual awareness of the presence of Christ within, and also within every other human being. As a cloth becomes saturated with dye by osmosis, we are saturated with God by theosis.

A catechumen wrote that he was finding icons helpful in resisting unwanted thoughts. "If you just close your eyes to some visual temptation, there are plenty of stored images to cause problems. But if you surround yourself with icons, you have a choice of whether to look at something tempting or something holy."

A priest writes, "Men need a challenge, a goal, perhaps an adventure — in primitive terms, a hunt. Western Christianity has lost the ascetic, that is, the athletic aspect of Christian life. This was the purpose of monasticism, which arose in the East largely as a men's movement. Women entered monastic life as well, and our ancient hymns still speak of women martyrs as showing 'manly courage.'"

"Orthodoxy emphasizes DOING. …. Guys are ACTIVITY oriented."

No Sentimentality. In "The Church Impotent," cited above (and recommended by several of these men), Leon Podles offers a theory about how Western Christian piety became feminized. In the 12th-13th centuries a particularly tender, even erotic, strain of devotion arose, one which invited the individual believer to picture himself or herself (rather than the Church as a whole) as the Bride of Christ. "Bridal Mysticism" was enthusiastically adopted by devout women, and left an enduring stamp on Western Christianity. It understandably had less appeal for guys. For centuries in the West, men who chose the ministry have been stereotyped as effeminate. A life-long Orthodox layman says that, from the outside, Western Christianity strikes him as "a love story written for women by women."

The Eastern Church escaped Bridal Mysticism because the great split between East and West had already taken place. The men who wrote me expressed hearty dislike for what they perceive as a soft Western Jesus. "American Christianity in the last two hundred years has been feminized. It presents Jesus as a friend, a lover, someone who 'walks with me and talks with me.' This is fine rapturous imagery for women who need a social life. Or it depicts Jesus whipped, dead on the cross. Neither is the type of Christ the typical male wants much to do with."

During worship, "men don't want to pray in the Western fashion with hands clasped, lips pressed together, and a facial expression of forced serenity." "It's guys holding hands with other guys and singing campfire songs." "Lines about 'reaching out for His embrace,' 'wanting to touch His face,' while being 'overwhelmed by the power of His love'—those are difficult songs for one man to sing to another Man."

"A friend of mine told me that the first thing he does when he walks into a church is to look at the curtains. That tells him who is making the decisions in that church, and the type of Christian they want to attract."

"Guys either want to be challenged to fight for a glorious and honorable cause, and get filthy dirty in the process, or to loaf in our recliners with plenty of beer, pizza, and football. But most churches want us to behave like orderly gentlemen, keeping our hands and mouths nice and clean."

One man said that worship at his Pentecostal church had been "largely an emotional experience. Feelings. Tears. Repeated rededication of one's life to Christ, in large emotional group settings. Singing emotional songs, swaying hands aloft. Even Scripture reading was supposed to produce an emotional experience. I am basically a do-er, I want to do things, and not talk about or emote my way through them! As a business person I knew that nothing in business comes without effort, energy, and investment. Why would the spiritual life be any different?"

Another, who visited Catholic churches, says, "They were conventional, easy, and modern, when my wife and I were looking for something traditional, hard, and counter-cultural, something ancient and martial." A catechumen says that at his non-denominational church "worship was shallow, haphazard, cobbled together from whatever was most current; sometimes we'd stand, sometimes we'd sit, without much rhyme or reason to it. I got to thinking about how a stronger grounding in tradition would help."

"It infuriated me on my last Ash Wednesday that the priest delivered a homily about how the real meaning of Lent is to learn to love ourselves more. It forced me to realize how completely sick I was of bourgeois, feel-good American Christianity."

A convert priest says that men are drawn to the dangerous element of Orthodoxy, which involves "the self-denial of a warrior, the terrifying risk of loving one's enemies, the unknown frontiers to which a commitment to humility might call us. Lose any of those dangerous qualities and we become the 'JoAnn Fabric Store' of churches: nice colors and a very subdued clientele."

"Men get pretty cynical when they sense someone's attempting to manipulate their emotions, especially when it's in the name of religion. They appreciate the objectivity of Orthodox worship. It's not aimed at prompting religious feelings but at performing an objective duty."

Yet there is something in Orthodoxy that offers "a deep masculine romance. Do you understand what I mean by that? Most romance in our age is pink, but this is a romance of swords and gallantry."

From a deacon: "Evangelical churches call men to be passive and nice (think 'Mr. Rogers'). Orthodox churches call men to be courageous and act (think 'Braveheart').

Jesus Christ. What draws men to Orthodoxy is not simply that it's challenging or mysterious. What draws them is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the center of everything the Church does or says.

In contrast to some other churches, "Orthodoxy offers a robust Jesus" (and even a robust Virgin Mary, for that matter, hailed in one hymn as "our Captain, Queen of War"). Several used the term "martial" or referred to Orthodoxy as the "Marine Corps" of Christianity. (The warfare is against self-destructive sin and the unseen spiritual powers, not other people, of course.)

One contrasted this "robust" quality with "the feminized pictures of Jesus I grew up with. I've never had a male friend who would not have expended serious effort to avoid meeting someone who looked like that." Though drawn to Jesus Christ as a teen, "I felt ashamed of this attraction, as if it were something a red-blooded American boy shouldn't take that seriously, almost akin to playing with dolls."

A priest writes: "Christ in Orthodoxy is a militant, Jesus takes Hell captive. Orthodox Jesus came to cast fire on the earth. (Males can relate to this.) In Holy Baptism we pray for the newly-enlisted warriors of Christ, male and female, that they may 'be kept ever warriors invincible.'"

After several years in Orthodoxy, one man found a service of Christmas carols in a Protestant church "shocking, even appalling." Compared to the Orthodox hymns of Christ's Nativity, "'the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay' has almost nothing to do with the Eternal Logos entering inexorably, silently yet heroically, into the fabric of created reality."

Photo by Alexander Osokin.

Continuity. Many intellectually-inclined Orthodox converts began by reading Church history and the early Christian writers, and found it increasingly compelling. Eventually they faced the question of which of the two most ancient churches, the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox, makes the most convincing claim of being the original Church of the Apostles.

A lifelong Orthodox says that what men like is "stability: Men find they can trust the Orthodox Church because of the consistent and continuous tradition of faith it has maintained over the centuries." A convert says, "The Orthodox Church offers what others do not: continuity with the first followers of Christ." This is continuity, not archeology; the early church still exists, and you can join it.

"What drew me was Christ's promises to the Church about the gates of hell not prevailing, and the Holy Spirit leading into all truth—and then seeing in Orthodoxy a unity of faith, worship, and doctrine with continuity throughout history."

Another word for continuity is "tradition." A catechumen writes that he had tried to learn everything necessary to interpret Scripture correctly, including ancient languages. "I expected to dig my way down to the foundation and confirm everything I'd been taught. Instead, the further down I went, the weaker everything seemed. I realized I had only acquired the ability to manipulate the Bible to say pretty much anything I wanted it to. The only alternative to cynicism was tradition. If the Bible was meant to say anything, it was meant to say it within a community, with a tradition to guide the reading. In Orthodoxy I found what I was looking for."

Men in Balance. A priest writes: "There are only two models for men: be 'manly' and strong, rude, crude, macho, and probably abusive; or be sensitive, kind, repressed and wimpy. But in Orthodoxy, masculine is held together with feminine; it's real and down to earth, 'neither male nor female,' but Christ who 'unites things in heaven and things on earth.'"

Another priest comments that, if one spouse is originally more insistent about the family converting to Orthodoxy than the other, "when both spouses are making confessions, over time they both become deepened and neither one is as dominant in the spiritual relationship."

Men in Leadership. Like it or not, men simply prefer to be led by men. In Orthodoxy, lay women do everything lay men do, including preach, teach, and chair the parish council. But behind the iconostasis, around the altar, it's all men. One respondent summarized what men like in Orthodoxy this way: "Beards!"

"It's the last place in the world men aren't told they're evil simply for being men." Instead of negativity, they are constantly surrounded by positive role models in the saints, in icons and in the daily round of hymns and stories about saints' lives. This is another concrete element that men appreciate — there are other real human beings to look to, rather than a blur of ethereal terms. "The glory of God is a man fully alive," said St. Irenaeus. One writer adds that "The best way to attract a man to the Orthodox Church is to show him an Orthodox man."

But no secondary thing, no matter how good, can supplant first place. "A dangerous life is not the goal. Christ is the goal. A free spirit is not the goal. Christ is the goal. He is the towering figure of history around whom all men and women will eventually gather, to whom every knee will bow, and whom every tongue will confess."

     December 2007 issue of The Word magazine

HT: Journey to Orthodoxy

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Casualty Report on the Gender War

My emphasis.
My comments. (sarcasm intended)

(Daily Mail) A pre-school in Sweden has decided to stop calling children 'him' or 'her' in a bid to avoid gender stereotypes.

The Egalia preschool, in the Sodermalm district of Stockholm, has made the decision as part of the country efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood.

As well as the decision to stop using the words, the taxpayer-funded school also carefully plans the colour and placement of toys and the choice of books to assure they do not fall into stereotypes.

The school opened last year and is on a mission to break down gender roles - a core mission in the national curriculum for Swedish pre-schools.

The option to implement the rules is underpinned by a theory that society gives boys an unfair edge.

'Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing,' says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. (You're right. That is odd...)

'Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.' (No, it gives you the chance to warp innocent children to your perversion.)

At the school, boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.

Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction. (Have you ever seen a kid's room that's been played in? Toy placement is meaningless.)

Meanwhile, nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no 'Snow White,' 'Cinderella' or other fairy tales. (Allowing the kid's to be who they want to be, I see.)

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Rajalin says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play. 

'A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble,' she says. 'Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on.' (Because a natural family, the building block of society, is unnatural and destructive...)

Egalia's methods are controversial, with Rajalin claiming the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.

But she says that there's a long waiting list for admission, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school. (If she's telling the truth, this is sad. Either only one family is paying attention, or everyone else is too warped to care.)

Jukka Korpi, 44, says he and his wife chose Egalia 'to give our children all the possibilities based on who they are and not on their gender.' (That's called higher education! Not subjecting your kids to experimentation.)

Staff at the school try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her – 'han' or 'hon' in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless 'hen'.

'We use the word "Hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten,' Rajalin says. (Orwell just cried.)

'We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say "Hen is coming around 2pm"; then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view.' (Or confuses the daylights out of them.)

Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go. (Understatement of the year...)

{'The kind of things that boys like to do - run around and turn sticks into swords - will soon be disapproved of,' he said.

'So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.'}  (Exactly)

That last sentence says it all. The efforts of this "school" are an attempt by overzealous feminist ideals to remove the 'strong man' from society. Don't forget, this is also one of the most de-Christianised countries in the world.

You might be be tempted to call this femi-nazi propaganda and experimentation. You'd be right. This stems from the idea that all boys get an unfair advantage from society for being boys. Therefore, the correction is to transform a boy into a girl, and of course, vice versa. This a perverted ideology with mass human experiments and relentless child indoctrination!

Gender stereotypes like calling a child HIM and HER, are no longer acceptable. After all, this will empower the kids to become gay normal. Even"dis-educational, proto-Fascist, chauvinistic literature aimed at consolidating the male supremacy like 'Cinderella' or 'Snow White'" are unacceptable and a 'hindrence' to their 'natural' development. 

Don't be fooled by the change of face, this is still the symptom of an ideology that  Lenin and Hitler used to strike such evil on humanity.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fr. Michael Rodriguez defends Catholic Teaching in El Paso

Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Michael Rodriguez, defends the Christian faith and position on homosexuality at an El Paso City Council vote to repeal medical benefits from 'unmarried partners'. He maintains that homosexual behavior is unnatural, and not a valid basis for an identity that opposes the Christian faith handed down from God. We should all desire the care for all people, however, sinful behavior is not a basis of that love.

There is a deep rooted belief that implies and instructs that separation of church and state means completely ignoring any reasoning that is religiously derived. This, however, is not the purpose of a separation of Church and State. The Church cannot control the State, but out well-founded and true beliefs are still the valid source of our earthly reasoning.

For the full video, go to the link below, and select under City Council Meetings "6/14/2011".

Wages of Sin: Are Sexual Sins the Worst Sins?

by Fr. Ted

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

There is no doubt since Christianity began it taught its members to be holy as God is holy.  This has sometimes been reduced in people’s minds to referring only to morality, but holiness is not just proper external behavior, it also has to do with the state of a person’s heart, and in fact their very being including their relationship with God.  Sometimes Christians reduce the sense of holiness to sexual activity, something which was influenced by ideas presented early on in Christianity by dualists who despised the body and marriage, treating any sexual desire as a disease (St. John Cassian calls it such in his Institutes, though admittedly he is writing for monks not to all Christians).  This abhorrence of anything sexual ultimate denies the goodness of creation and is at odds with the Genesis story of God creating humans male and female as well as with the Gospel truth of the incarnation where Jesus is a male not an androgynous being).  Today, as in every generation of Christianity, we see these ideas manifesting themselves, in our times especially in claims which make homosexuality to be veritably THE unforgivable sin.   In the book IN THE WORLD, OF THE CHURCH, Paul Evdokimov notes:

Berdiaev [Nikolai Berdiaev, a 19th century Russian religious and political philosopher] stressed with reason that the Gospel is infinitely more severe toward wealth, exploitation, and social disorder than toward any sexual failing. The real problem of social obligation has been repressed and replaced by a veritable obsession with matters sexual, even up to our time.  According to the Gospel, it is the rich who will not enter the Kingdom, while repentant prostitutes enter ahead of the righteous and their influence.  ( pg. 87)

We are so often concerned with or obsessed by the sins of others, while holiness tells us when it comes to sin to specifically look at ourselves.   Christianity is a self-denying religion, but only when it comes to sin does it traditionally tell us to look at ourselves and judge rather than looking at and judging others.

Patriarch Kirill: European population will die without Christianity

Moscow, June 22, Interfax - Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill urged European religious leaders to make collective efforts to pursue the revival of Christianity within the continent.

"The Russian Orthodox Church proposes that European Christian communities unite to become partners of the states and European civil community in pursuing the revival of tangible connection between the human rights concept and the pan-European spiritual heritage," the Patriarch said at the Moscow meeting of the European Council of Religious Leaders.

According to him, only economic and political ties in Europe cannot be "a sustainable basis for the well-being of European community" and existing social values of human rights and rule of law and democracy may remain just "the forms which are unlikely to benefit in the conditions of moral relativism and sometimes may even cause harm."

Patriarch Kirill quoted "the decline of family values causing depopulation in Europe" as an example.

"How can family values be less important than the above ones, if the destruction of family causes physical reduction of the European population? Who will benefit from political developments, if European peoples cease to be or reduce to such number that their role will fail to have any significance?" he asked.

The Patriarch believes that the Soviet human rights concept involves no "clear and reasonable definition of the term human dignity" which is recognized in religious world view, therefore, Patriarch urged representatives of traditional religious communities of Europe to "make the term human dignity meaningful and establish its relation to virtue and seeking perfection."

"This is going to be our investment into generating ethical standards of both personal and social development. Currently, public environment is almost deprived of any moral models or ideals. Mass culture may only offer an image of a prosperous and successful person who can afford to meet every his or her wish," he noted.

The Patriarch expressed hope that the European Council of Religious Leaders will make its contribution to "intellectual enrichment of the European community with traditional religious values which have for centuries encouraged Europeans to seek justice and life under ethical norms generated by this tradition."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Prayer Rule for a Busy Life from St. Seraphim

The Simple Rule 

       Many among the simple people told St. Seraphim that on account of their illiteracy or lack of time they could not read the appointed rules of prayer. To such people Fr. Seraphim gave a rule which cold be carried out quite easily.

       Let every Christian on rising from sleep, stand before the ikons and say the following:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
(3x, in honour of the Trinity)

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast born the Saviour of our souls.

The Creed
 I believe in one God, the Father Almighty,
 Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
 the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light, true God of true God;
begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation came down from the heavens, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became man;
And was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And He arose again on the third day according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into heave, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;
And He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead;
Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life; Who proceedeth from the Father;
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified;
Who spake by the prophets.
In One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life or the age to come.

      Having performed this rule, let every Christian go to the work to which he has been appointed or called. But during his work, at home, or on his way to some place, let him say softly, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. But if he is surrounded by people, while doing whatever he has to do, let him say mentally only, Lord, have mercy! and continue till lunch-time.

      Before lunch let him again perform the above-mentioned morning rule (three times).

      After lunch let every Christian while going about his business say softly; Most holy Mother of God, save me a sinner, and let him continue that until bedtime.

      If he happens to spend his time alone, let him say: Lord Jesus Christ, through the Mother of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

      At bedtime let every Christian read again the above-mentioned morning rule. Then let him go to sleep, having protected himself with the sign of the cross.
      By keeping this simple rule, it is possible to reach a measure of Christian perfection and divine love. -St. Seraphim

From An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim, Flame of Sarov, p. 327-328