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Posts by Zero Sum

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  • UFO climb in Lakes is out-of-this-world trip

    08/29/2009 9:08:11 PM PDT · 53 of 981
    Zero Sum to Quix
    "You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

    Oh drat, another allusion...

  • UFO climb in Lakes is out-of-this-world trip

    08/29/2009 8:28:42 PM PDT · 45 of 981
    Zero Sum to Quix
    But I’ve never understood what that’s all about. Could you please enlighten me?

    Movie allusion.

    Psychoactive drugs or what?

    Well, I certainly wouldn't recommend taking pills from a stranger...

  • UFO climb in Lakes is out-of-this-world trip

    08/29/2009 5:11:44 PM PDT · 33 of 981
    Zero Sum to Quix; EAGLE7
    Perhaps if you asked the kind teacher’s aid,

    she’d be happy to trade your red crayon for a blue and a green one.

    *raises hand*

    Can I trade my red pill for a blue one?

  • Atheism, for Good Reason, Fears Questions (Temple of Darwin atheists at war with theistic evos?)

    06/26/2009 8:59:43 PM PDT · 120 of 144
    Zero Sum to Two Ravens; count-your-change
    "Perhaps teleology might not necessarily be obvious in nature..."

    Good, your last sentence there acknowledges the point I've been trying to make.

    No, the problem is that you attempted to go much farther. This is what you claimed in post 73:

    The fact that infants die of cancer is extremely relevant however, as compelling evidence that nature is not teleological in character.
    Do you understand yet that the very assumption (i.e. that infant cancer is an example of something gone "horribly wrong") required in order to give this claim an air of plausibility in the first place (which it only achieves by eliciting an emotional response) would in fact imply the opposite? You have yet to address this problem. Why did you ignore the rest of my post?

    Again, I'm not trying to prove to you that nature is teleological. Why should I? You already believe that it is.

    But just because I propose a trichotomy...

    A false trichotomy. This is another problem that you have yet to address (again, see my previous post).

    ...and at some point make a statement based upon the presuppositions of one of them (as I've done with each of the others as well) it doesn't mean that I actually accept that view.

    Except that's not what you did. You said (post 95):

    We all admit that things in nature at least sometimes don't work as the should, and in fact often go horribly wrong, as in the case of infant cancer.
    This was presented not as a logical consequence of any of your three proposed possibilities, but as an overarching assumption. According to you, this is something on which we all agree. Obviously, you believe it.

    Temporarily adopting the presuppositions of a particular argument in order to follow them to their conclusions is long-stand rhetorical method, and ignorance of that method or pretense otherwise isn't going to get you guys any mileage.

    See above. It is obvious that you did not merely adopt the assumption for the sake of argument. Either way, you still need to deal with the fact that you were wrong about the implications. From post 79:

    That "failure of some system" (especially in the context of a young life) is direct evidence that nature is non-teleological.
    On the contrary: If cancer is the "failure of some system" then this means that the system has a purpose. So instead of concluding that infant cancer implies that nature is not teleological, you must logically conclude that infant cancer implies that nature IS teleological.

    Again, is infant cancer the result of something not working as it should, or isn't it? If the former, then nature is teleogical; if the latter, then it cannot be used as an argument against teleology. Either way, infant cancer does not demonstrate that nature is not teleological. You have no argument, and you never did.

  • Atheism, for Good Reason, Fears Questions (Temple of Darwin atheists at war with theistic evos?)

    06/25/2009 2:17:04 AM PDT · 117 of 144
    Zero Sum to Two Ravens
    Go back and read my last few posts, and you'll see that I've allowed for the possibility that one could conclude the existence of an inept or insane (or evil) designer(s) based upon purely naturalistic evidence.

    OK, but I was pointing out the problem with your argument against teleology. Your proposed trichotomy (either no designer or inept designer or insane designer) is also fallacious, but before we get to that perhaps you should come to terms with your own apparent belief in teleolgy. Perhaps teleology might not necessarily be obvious in nature... but then why do you believe in it? Why do you believe that infant cancer is the result of something gone "horribly wrong"?

    Again, I am not trying to prove to you that nature is teleological, but if you wish to discuss the matter logically then you need to understand why your attemped proof of the contrary is self-defeating. Is infant cancer an example of something not working the way that it should, or isn't it? If infant cancer is an example of something not working the way that it should (as you presume) then this implies that nature (at least so far as human life is concerned) is teleological, which is the opposite of what you claimed it showed. If, on the other hand, infant cancer is NOT an example of something not working the way that it should, then you have no argument to begin with.

    Now, regarding the false trichotomy you proposed regarding the possibilities of a designer (or lack thereof): What do you mean by "evil", and by what "purely naturalistic" standard would you accuse the designer of nature of being "insane"? Or perhaps you have some standard in mind that is not "purely naturalistic"? Do you see the problem here?

    No, the logical trichotomy is not nearly as loaded: Either 1) There is no designer; 2) There is an inept designer; or 3) There is a perfectly skilled designer.

  • Atheism, for Good Reason, Fears Questions (Temple of Darwin atheists at war with theistic evos?)

    06/24/2009 2:12:58 AM PDT · 108 of 144
    Zero Sum to Two Ravens; count-your-change
    We all admit that things in nature at least sometimes don't work as the should, and in fact often go horribly wrong, as in the case of infant cancer.

    We do? So now you're saying that nature is teleological? Saying that "things in nature at least sometimes don't work as the[y] should, and in fact often go horribly wrong" assumes that there is a purpose to the way that things work, i.e. it assumes teleology.

    In post 92 you wrote:

    You can't just glibly speak about "cancer causing chemicals" and "disease" as if those are neutral things.
    But without a teleological framework, that's exactly what they are: They're just things that happen, and there is no question of anything "going wrong".

    To be clear, I am not trying to prove to you that nature is teleological. However, it seems that you already (tacitly) believe that it is.

  • Obama’s not Pro-Abortion, He’s Just “Pro-Choice”: L’Osservatore Romano Editor

    06/23/2009 1:03:57 PM PDT · 33 of 46
    Zero Sum to stuartcr; ArrogantBustard

    I am pro-choice: I support the right of a man to beat his wife. This doesn’t mean that I’m pro-wife-beating, simply that I’m pro-choice. I personally believe that wife-beating is wrong, but the decision must be left up to the husband. I believe that wife-beating should be safe, legal, and rare.

    I am pro-choice: I support the right of people to own slaves. This doesn’t mean that I’m pro-slavery, simply that I’m pro-choice. I personally believe that slavery is wrong, but the decision must be left up to the slave-owner. I support federal funding for slave trafficking as the most effective way to reduce slavery.

    Anyone who disagrees with this is trying to legislate morality, which is unconstitutional.

    /moonbat logic

  • Unity Church?

    06/22/2009 7:14:15 PM PDT · 22 of 30
    Zero Sum to fluffygrrrl; stentorian conservative

    I’m glad to hear that your ex got help, but did you mean to ping the original poster of the thread instead?

  • Mary: Holy Mother

    06/20/2009 5:20:47 PM PDT · 91 of 100
    Zero Sum to wmfights; WKB
    Also, she was clearly not given any special status...

    See Luke 1:26-37. shown in Luke 11:27-28.

    Now continue on to Luke 1:38. ;)

  • Money, Sex, Indaba: Corrupting the Anglican Communion Listening Process

    06/16/2009 6:18:03 PM PDT · 15 of 15
    Zero Sum to Zero Sum; sionnsar


    But on a more serious note, faithful African Anglicans are not AT all amused that Lambeth and especially TEC are trying to put an “African” spin on this nonsense.

  • Money, Sex, Indaba: Corrupting the Anglican Communion Listening Process

    06/16/2009 6:15:15 PM PDT · 14 of 15
    Zero Sum to Zero Sum; sionnsar

    But on a more serious note, faithful African Anglicans are not all amused that Lambeth and especially TEC are trying to put an “African” spin on this nonsense.

  • Money, Sex, Indaba: Corrupting the Anglican Communion Listening Process

    06/16/2009 6:10:16 PM PDT · 13 of 15
    Zero Sum to sionnsar
    a burned steak


  • Early Christians and Abortion

    06/16/2009 6:01:13 PM PDT · 42 of 46
    Zero Sum to BuddhaBrown; wagglebee
    Particularly, since one was actually His Son

    And this is what completely obliterates any so-called "Christian" pro-abortion argument. How can a fetus be anything less than a human being when the Son of God became one for our sake?

    Add, if you like, Helvidius, the other humiliations of nature, the womb for nine months growing larger, the sickness, the delivery, the blood, the swaddling-clothes. Picture to yourself the infant in the enveloping membranes. Introduce into your picture the hard manger, the wailing of the infant, the circumcision on the eighth day, the time of purification, so that he may be proved to be unclean. We do not blush, we are not put to silence. The greater the humiliations He endured for me, the more I owe Him. And when you have given every detail, you will be able to produce nothing more shameful than the cross, which we confess, in which we believe, and by which we triumph over our enemies.

    -St. Jerome (Against Helvidius)
  • Money, Sex, Indaba: Corrupting the Anglican Communion Listening Process

    06/16/2009 5:32:58 PM PDT · 11 of 15
    Zero Sum to ken5050; Huber; sionnsar

    And with apologies to Brylcreem, the "Listening Process" in a nutshell:

    List'ning, a li'l indaba'll do ya,
    List'ning, but we don't really care;
    List'ning, forget Holy Tradition,
    Ol' continence is more than we can bear.
    A hair-etical jingle. *groan*

    I deserve to be burned at the stake for such a bad pun...

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/15/2009 8:54:29 PM PDT · 802 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to betty boop; Alamo-Girl
    But Zero Sum's postulation would not "entail" that the Sun must "agree" to stand still, so to accommodate his/her thought experiment.

    True enough. :)

    So what's the point of the thought experiment?

    Pedagogy. Just like with the exercises you find in physics textbooks.

    As it stands, it has no "stationary object," no anchor or criterion according to which its phenomena can be compared and judged. JMHO FWIW

    When we speak of a "stationary object" it is understood that this is not because the object meets some universal standard for being "stationary" (there is none) but because the object is stationary WRT to some inertial frame. The Sun is stationary WRT an inertial frame to a close enough approximation for the purpose of emphasizing the empirical difference between a real orbit as viewed from an inertial frame and an apparent orbit due to viewing a stationary object from a rotating frame. In the context of the merry-go-round experiment, the same could be said of the "stationary" target standing still on the Earth. Does this clarify things?

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/14/2009 6:55:48 PM PDT · 767 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to LeGrande
    This is a very good day. I have been humbled a little bit and I have learned a couple of valuable lessons : )

    It is always a good day when we are humbled. Humility is something in which I am sorely lacking and for which I need to remember to pray every day.

    God bless.

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/14/2009 6:53:24 PM PDT · 766 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to Alamo-Girl
    Our solar system is orbiting the Milky Way galaxy at a speed of 486,000 miles per hour. And on top of that, space/time itself is expanding.

    To the extent that these might affect the apparent motion of the Sun as viewed from the Earth at all, the effect is negligible compared to the apparent motion of the Sun due to the Earth's rotation. For the purposes of our thought experiment, we can consider the Sun to be stationary WRT an inertial frame.

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/14/2009 4:40:32 AM PDT · 753 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to Zero Sum; LeGrande; mrjesse; Fichori; TXnMA
    OK, now that I'm awake, let me clean up my answer to #2, which in post 751 reads very badly and completely misses the point I was trying to make.
    2) "In other words when we see the Sun we see where it was apx 8 and a half minutes ago."
    This is true, of course. But the Sun is in the same place that it was 8.5 minutes ago, which is where we see it. This is because the apparent motion is due not to the Sun revolving around us, but to our rotation, and these are not relative.

    That we see the Sun where it was 8.5 minutes ago would of course be true whether we were rotating or whether the Sun were orbiting us, but in the former case the Sun is where we see it while in the latter case the Sun is 2 degrees ahead of where we see it. These situations are not equivalent.

    Now, if we want to hit the Sun with our "LASER", we must aim at where the Sun will be 8.5 minutes from now: In the former case we would aim at where we see the Sun, while in the latter case we would need to lead the Sun by 4 degrees (not 2) from where we see it. Again, the situations are not equivalent.

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/14/2009 3:35:51 AM PDT · 752 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to Zero Sum; LeGrande; mrjesse; Fichori; TXnMA
    2) "In other words when we see the Sun we see where it was apx 8 and a half minutes ago."

    This is true, of course. But the crux of the matter here is: Where was the sun 8.5 minutes ago? Was it where we see it now or was it where we saw it 8.5 minutes ago, 2 degrees behind where we see it now? The former is the correct answer because the apparent motion is due not to the Sun revolving around us, but due to our rotation, and as I've tried to make clear already, these are not relative.

    And of course I left out the most important part (although I had alluded to it above) that the Sun is in the same place now that it was 8.5 minutes ago, which is where we see it now.

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/14/2009 3:22:43 AM PDT · 751 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to LeGrande; mrjesse; Fichori; TXnMA
    You have come to this discussion a little late and I don't want to get bogged down in Galilean inertial frames.

    The discussion of inertial frames applies to Lorentz transformations as well, which, like Galilean transformations, are linear. The transformations for rotational frames are not, which is why a rotating frame is not inertial.

    The initial statement that I made was that an objects apparent position is not identical to its actual position at any given instant in time, primarily due to the speed of light. In other words when we see the Sun we see where it was apx 8 and a half minutes ago.

    Do you agree or disagree with that statement?

    If I answer this then will you do me the courtesy of answering the quesions that I posed in my previous post? If you demand that I answer your questions but you refuse to answer mine then I don't see any use in continuing this discussion, nor will I respond to you again unless and until you show the courtesy to reciprocate. If you choose not to then my post stands, and I have no reason not to be content with that.

    Now, I answer that there are two statements there.

    1) "The initial statement that I made was that an objects apparent position is not identical to its actual position at any given instant in time, primarily due to the speed of light."
    I agree if you insert the word "necessarily" before the word "identical". However, there are certainly cases where an object's apparent position can coincide with its actual position, the case of a stationary object WRT an observer in an inertial frame being the trivial example. Here is another example:
    2) "In other words when we see the Sun we see where it was apx 8 and a half minutes ago."
    This is true, of course. But the crux of the matter here is: Where was the sun 8.5 minutes ago? Was it where we see it now or was it where we saw it 8.5 minutes ago, 2 degrees behind where we see it now? The former is the correct answer because the apparent motion is due not to the Sun revolving around us, but due to our rotation, and as I've tried to make clear already, these are not relative. If you would argue that they are, then kindly address the questions from my previous post.

    MrJesse is quit adamant that the actual position is the same as the apparent position, except for a little parallax that I taught him about.

    And he is correct (although we should take into accout refraction due to the atmosphere as well, but that's a different story). In your Earth/Pluto thought experiment you will not get 102 degrees difference from parallax, not even close. The correction for parallax will be miniscule. Nor will you get even close to 2 degrees due to parallax in 8.5 minutes considering the position of the Sun as seen from the surface of the Earth.

    But since we are discussing rotating frames (which for some reason you seem to think are inertial) let's keep our thought experiments focused on that. Or better yet, do a real experiment and see for yourself the difference between spinning and orbiting. And keep those questions from my previous post in mind when you do. :)

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/13/2009 8:53:42 PM PDT · 745 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to LeGrande; mrjesse; Fichori; TXnMA
    LOL Watch the animation again, you will notice that the sender releases the ball directly at the recipient in both cases. You will also notice that the recipient catches the ball directly behind the sender, 180 degrees away, in both frames of reference.

    No kidding. The thrower is aiming at the target, not leading him. What you wrote in post 716 is incorrect:

    Well it so happens that if Pluto is stationary you will need to lead it by 102 degrees if you are shooting that missile from a rotating Earth.
    I missed this the first time, but this is also incorrect:
    You seem to understand that if Pluto was orbiting a stationary earth you would need to lead it by 102 degrees to hit it with a missile traveling at the speed of light.
    The reason being that you would need to lead the image of Pluto by TWICE as much (i.e. 204 degrees) in order to account for Pluto's motion both during the time that it took the light from Pluto to reach Earth and during the time that it will take your Light-Attained Speedy Extraterrestrial Rocket, or "LASER"... :) reach Pluto.

    However, this is different than the case of a stationary Pluto and a rotating frame. If you wanted to hit Pluto in this case you would aim at its image just as you would if you were aiming at a stationary Pluto from a non-rotating, inertial frame. Why? Because as viewed from your non-inertial, rotating frame, the light's path appears to curve (watch the animation with the ball again, from the perspective of the thrower): The light that Pluto emitted 102 degrees ago also curves around 102 degrees to meet you, and your "LASER"...

    ...will curve around to meet Pluto 102 degrees later. If you were to fire something travelling slower than the speed of light, you would STILL aim at the image, but your projectile would simply take longer to hit its target, and at a different angle displacement. Again, this is all because rotating frames are non-inertial.

    Did you even watch the animation?

    Of course... what do you think I was discussing in my post when I pointed out that the thrower is not leading the target? Did you bother to read the rest of my post, and did you understand what I wrote? More importantly, did you bother to read the explanation of the animation at the link you provided, and do you understand the difference between an inertial frame and a non-inertial one? Do you understand that the animation shows the juxtaposition of a throw and catch as seen by a spinning thrower in a non-inertial frame and as seen by a stationary catcher in an inertial one? Do you understand that the animation does NOT show a throw and catch as seen by a non-spinning thrower in an inertial frame and as seen by an orbiting (and spinning!) catcher in a non-inertial frame? Do you understand that in this case the non-spinning thrower would have to lead the orbiting catcher by releasing the ball when he is BEHIND her in order to compensate for the catcher's motion, and that he will catch the ball when he is IN FRONT of her, as opposed to the other way around as in the animation? Do you understand that in this case the thrower would observe the ball following a linear trajectory while the catcher would observe the ball following a curved trajectory, as opposed to the other way around as in the animation? Do you see the difference?

  • The Atheist Perversion of Reality

    06/13/2009 1:35:24 PM PDT · 733 of 1,292
    Zero Sum to LeGrande; mrjesse; Fichori; TXnMA

    What it is demonstrating is that there is no difference between being orbited or spinning. It is all about inertial frames of reference.

    No, in fact it demonstrates just the opposite: A rotating frame of reference is not an inertial frame.

    Well it so happens that if Pluto is stationary you will need to lead it by 102 degrees if you are shooting that missile from a rotating Earth. There is no difference between the inertial frames as far as the two observers in them are concerned.

    Wrong again. If you play the animation in your link, you will note that the person on the merry-go-round does not lead her target, but throws the ball right at him the moment he appears in front of her. You will notice that at each moment during the animation, the ball's instantaneous velocity has it traveling towards the target, and this is true in both frames. However, the stationary target in the INERTIAL frame sees the ball travelling straight at constant velocity (because of the ball's INERTIA), while the rotating thrower sees the ball curve around and follow the target: She observes an ACCELERATION that cannot be accounted for by any real force. This is why the apparent force that would have to be acting on the object to cause the observed acceleration if the rotating frame were indeed inertial (acceleration which is not observed in an inertial frame) is called FICTITIOUS, and this demonstrates that rotating frames are not inertial.

    You are correct that you would need to lead a target that is orbiting around you, but you are incorrect in saying that you would need to lead a stationary target if you are spinning. Rotational motion is not relative, and again, the link you provided shows how this can be demonstrated by experiment: The apparent curvature of the ball's trajectory shows the person on the merry-go-round that she is rotating, and since her target is stationary she does not have to lead it. If, on the other hand, she were not spinning and her target were orbiting around her, then she would have to lead the target, because being in an INERTIAL frame, she would see the ball going straight.

  • SATIRE: Obama Says Sotomayor’s “Castrate White Males” Comment Taken Out of Context

    06/03/2009 2:19:36 PM PDT · 53 of 82
    Zero Sum to denydenydeny; Admin Moderator; smoothsailing

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting satirical articles like this, but:

    1) It should be clearly marked as satire in the title, and
    2) It doesn’t belong in the News/Activism forum.

    Just my 2 cents...

  • Anti-abortion protesters show up at Tiller vigil, face off with supporters of slain doctor

    06/01/2009 6:03:04 AM PDT · 40 of 44
    Zero Sum to buccaneer81
    Conservatives do not need "allies" like these scumbags.

    Conservatives are NOT allies with these scumbags. Of course, that won't stop the MSM from painting it that way.

  • The real news behind the very public apostasy of the Rev. Alberto Cutié

    05/30/2009 3:51:07 PM PDT · 27 of 65
    Zero Sum to Teófilo
    I believe that the EC’s Diocese of Miami saw an opportunity to reverse the declining trend in their jurisdiction and decided to exploit Fr. Cutié’s apostasy and the city’s hot Hispanic demographics at the expense of the Catholic Church.

    Pretty much. TEC is nothing but a publicity whore. I hope this stunt backfires just like their prediction that ordaining a gay bishop would cause prospective converts to start "beating down the doors" as they flooded into the church. Well, the doors were beat down alright, as many people flooded OUT.

  • Christian discrimination

    05/30/2009 3:26:34 PM PDT · 18 of 18
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis
    What is the difference between a “weekly Bible study meetings in the privacy of one’s own home” and weekly prayer meetings at the Rev. Billy Bob Jeff’s Bring Your Own Snake Holiness Temple run out of his livingroom or Imam Mohammed al Dogvomit’s Half Moon Mosque run out of his garage, the style of the building? Architecture isn’t the issue. You can do better than that, ZS.

    What is the difference as far as the county should be concerned? Well, regarding "Billy Bob Jeff" I assume that there are some perfectly reasonable safety regulations that prohibit bringing dangerous animals into a neighborhood. Regarding "Mohammed al Dogvomit" I'm not really sure, so perhaps you could be more specific about the straw man example.

    Or better yet start with the right question, like how is a weekly Bible study meeting different in the eyes of the county than a weekly meeting of the "Poetry Club Synagogue" or the "First Church of Monday Night Football"? Please, again, explain the "perfectly reasonable" law that requires a permit for the one but presumably not for the others. Or do poetry lovers and football fans require a permit for "religious assembly" as well? And again, how is the nature of the meeting (and the personal questions asked by the county officers about the same) relevant to the issue of parking on the street, which the county says is the real concern and may indeed be a legitimate one?

  • Christian discrimination

    05/29/2009 8:20:53 PM PDT · 16 of 18
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; red irish
    It appears from the article that these people felt the law didn’t apply to them and didn’t get the necessary permit. The questions were to determine if they were running a religious assembly. I hope they got shut down or fined until they complied with a perfectly reasonable law.

    Please, tell me about the "perfectly reasonable law" that requires one to obtain a permit in order to hold weekly Bible study meetings in the privacy of one's own home. This has nothing to do with someone deciding to erect a church building in the middle of a residential area, so the mosque analogy is a straw man.

    The complaint came from someone who was visiting one of the pastors' neighbors and claimed that his car was hit by someone who was leaving the Bible study. This is an issue of public use of the streets and parking and it wasn't even brought up by the neighbors who actually live in the area. At any rate, it has nothing to do with the nature of the meetings themselves, which really is none of the county's business as the official herself said; but then this just demonstrates how ridiculous it was for the officers to ask these personal questions and for the county to issue a warning about needing a permit for "religious assembly" in the first place.

  • Couple: [San Diego] County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies [fines for "unlawful use of land"]

    05/28/2009 9:02:04 PM PDT · 36 of 40
    Zero Sum to bhannah; william clark; svcw; dangus; marshmallow
    This is only controversial because he was holding a bible study. If he was holding regularly scheduled business meetings, no one would talk about it, as this is how municipalities work. Persecution complex much?

    This is controversial because of the questions that were allegedly asked by the county in the process:

    'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'

    and because according to the owners' attorney they were told to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit"; all of which would be completely irrelevant if this is simply an issue of parking and use of public streets.

    It would be nice if we had more information on the specific regulation(s) that the county invoked, and why.

  • Atheists roll out ad campaign (Indiana / Chicago)

    05/26/2009 7:24:16 PM PDT · 11 of 11
    Zero Sum to joshhiggins
    How about "In the beginning Mohamed created Allah"

    Or, "There is no God, and Mohammed is his prophet."

    And see how well that goes over. ;)

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/26/2009 6:59:43 PM PDT · 61 of 62
    Zero Sum to kosta50; Kolokotronis
    I will try this once more. Please forgive me, both of you, for anything I said that was lacking in love.

    Kosta, in reply to your post:

    Chapter XII indeed deals with the difficult rationalization the Church has to make (unconvincingly) that God is the source of all this evil in the Bible but he is really not the source of evil! Be it as it may, St. Isaac the Syrian states in a paragraph just above the one you selectively picked to make your point:

    "Very often many things are said by the Holy Scriptures and in it many names are used not in a literal sense ... those who have a mind understand this (Homily 83, p. 317)."
    In other words, the fear of God is not the fear from God.

    The quote from St. Isaac is applied not to our own fear, but to God's "anger" and to the "evil" which He is said to do. Here is the context:

    Many will say: "Does not Holy Scripture itself often speak about the anger of God? Is it not God Himself who says that He will punish us or that He will pardon us? Is it not written that 'He is a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him' (Heb. 11:6)? 33 Does He not say that vengeance is His and that He will requite the wickedness done to us? Is it not written that it is fearful to fall into the hands of the living God?" 34

    In his discourse entitled That God is not the Cause of Evil, Saint Basil the Great writes the following: "But one may say, if God is not responsible for evil things, why is it said in the book of Esaias, 'I am He that prepared light and Who formed darkness, Who makes peace and Who creates evils' (45:7)." And again, "There came down evils from the Lord upon the gates of Jerusalem" (Mich. 1:12). And, "Shall there be evil in the city which the Lord hath not wrought?" (Amos 3:6). And in the great Ode of Moses, "Behold, I am and there is no god beside Me. I will slay, and I will make to live; I will smite, and I will heal" (Deut. 32:39). But none of these citations, to him who understands the deeper meaning of the Holy Scriptures, casts any blame on God, as if He were the cause of evils and their creator, for He Who said, "I am the One Who makes light and darkness," shows Himself as the Creator of the universe, not that He is the creator of any evil.... "He creates evils," that means, "He fashions them again and brings them to a betterment, so that they leave their evilness, to take on the nature of good." 35

    As Saint Isaac the Syrian writes, "Very often many things are said by the Holy Scriptures and in it many names are used not in a literal sense... those who have a mind understand this" (Homily 83, p. 317).

    Saint Basil in the same discourse 36 gives the explanation of these expressions of the Holy Scriptures: "It is because fear," says he, "edifies simpler people," and this is true not only for simple people but for all of us. After our fall, we need fear in order to do any profitable thing and any good to ourselves or to others. In order to understand the Holy Scriptures, say the Fathers, we must have in mind their purpose which is to save us, and to bring us little by little to an understanding of our Creator God and of our wretched condition.
    Here is some information about that same homily by St. Basil, along with an excerpt which includes the parts that Kalomiros quotes in his lecture:
    Homily IX. is a demonstration that God is not the Author of Evil. It has been conjectured that it was delivered shortly after some such public calamity as the destruction of Nicæa in 368. St. Basil naturally touches on passages which have from time to time caused some perplexity on this subject. He asks588588 § 4. if God is not the Author of evil, how is it said “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil,”589589 Is. xiv. 7. and again, “The evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem,”590590 Micah i. 12. and again, “Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it,”591591 Amos iii. 6. and in the great song of Moses, “See now that I, even I, am he and there is no god with me: I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal”?592592 Deut. xxxii. 39. But to any one who understands the meaning of Scripture no one of these passages accuses God of being the Cause and Creator of evil. He who uses the words, “I form the light and create darkness,” describes Himself not as Creator of any evil, but as Demiurge of creation. “It is lest thou shouldst suppose that there is one cause of light and another of darkness that He described Himself as being Creator and Artificer of parts of creation which seem to be mutually opposed. It is to prevent thy seeking one Demiurge of fire, another of water, one of air and another of earth, these seeming to have a kind of mutual opposition and contrariety of qualities. By adopting these views many lviiihave ere now fallen into polytheism, but He makes peace and creates evil. Unquestionably He makes peace in thee when He brings peace into thy mind by His good teaching, and calms the rebel passions of thy soul. And He creates evil, that is to say, He reduces those evil passions to order, and brings them to a better state so that they may cease to be evil and may adopt the nature of good. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God.’593593 Ps. li. 10. This does not mean Make now for the first time;594594 δημιούργησον. it means Renew the heart that had become old from wickedness. The object is that He may make both one.595595 cf. Eph. ii. 14. The word create is used not to imply the bringing out of nothing, but the bringing into order those which already existed. So it is said, ‘If any man be in Christ he is a new creature.’596596 2 Cor. v. 17. Again, Moses says, ‘Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath He not made thee and created thee?’597597 Deut. xxxii. 6, LXX. Now, the creation put in order after the making evidently teaches us that the word creation, as is commonly the case, is used with the idea of improvement. And so it is thus that He makes peace, out of creating evil; that is, by transforming and bringing to improvement. Furthermore, even if you understand peace to be freedom from war, and evil to mean the troubles which are the lot of those who make war; marches into far regions, labours, vigils, terrors, sweatings, wounds, slaughters, taking of towns, slavery, exile, piteous spectacles of captives; and, in a word, all the evils that follow upon war, all these things, I say, happen by the just judgment of God, Who brings vengeance through war on those who deserve punishment. Should you have wished that Sodom had not been burnt after her notorious wickedness? Or that Jerusalem had not been overturned, nor her temple made desolate after the horrible wickedness of the Jews against the Lord? How otherwise was it right for these things to come to pass than by the hands of the Romans to whom our Lord had been delivered by the enemies of His life, the Jews? Wherefore it does sometimes come to pass that the calamities of war are righteously inflicted on those who deserve them—if you like to understand the words ‘I kill and I make alive’ in their obvious sense. Fear edifies the simple. ‘I wound and I heal’ is at once perceived to be salutary. The blow strikes terror; the cure attracts to love. But it is permissible to thee to find a higher meaning in the words, ‘I kill’—by sin; ‘I make alive’—by righteousness. ‘Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.’598598 2 Cor. iv. 16. He does not kill one and make another alive, but He makes the same man alive by the very means by which He kills him; He heals him by the blows which He inflicts upon him. As the proverb has it, ‘Thou shalt beat him with the rod and shalt deliver his soul from hell.’599599 Prov. xxiii. 14. The flesh is smitten that the soul may be healed; sin is put to death that righteousness may live. In another passage600600 § 3. it is argued that death is not an evil. Deaths come from God. Yet death is not absolutely an evil, except in the case of the death of the sinner, in which case departure from this world is a beginning of the punishments of hell. On the other hand, of the evils of hell the cause is not God, but ourselves. The origin and root of sin is what is in our own control and our free will.”

    It is sin, as I said earlier, that we need to fear and our disposition to commit it. How can one fear God if God is our only hope?

    It is a selfish fear of punishment like the fear a child has about being punished by his parents, but God our Father loves us and cares for us despite our selfishness. The problem is that we do not love God as we ought. Also, it is true what you said that our sin doesn't affect God. But this means that the fear cannot be that we will somehow let God down: We fear letting down the people we love because it hurts them (and this hurts us) but our sins cannot hurt God. Fear of God is a selfish fear of the consequences for us.

    But this selfish fear eclipses all other selfish fears. The point is that we shouldn't be afraid of anything else. I don't know why you doubt the veracity of Luke 12:4-5, because the same is found in Mat 10:28 (compare Luke 12:2-9 and Mat 10:26-33). See St. John Chrysostom's Homily 34 on Matthew for a discourse on this part of St. Matthew's Gospel.

    And paradoxically, this selfish fear of God is the beginning of true selflessness:

    64. If you are pregnant with the fear of death you will feel disgust for all food and drink and smart clothing. You will not even find pleasure in eating bread or drinking water. You will give your body only what it needs to keep alive; and you will not only renounce all self-will, but at the discretion of those to whom you are obedient you will become the servant of all.

    65.The person who from fear of punishment hereafter has placed himself as a slave in the hands of his spiritual fathers will not choose, even if commanded to do so, relief for his heart's suffering or deliverance from the bonds of his fear. Nor will he listen to those who out of friendship, or flattery, or in virtue of their authority, encourage him to seek such relief and freedom. On the contrary, he will choose what increases his suffering and heightens his fear, and will look with love on whatever helps another to inflict these things on him. Moreover, he will endure as though he never expected to be released; for hope of deliverance lightens one's burden, and this is harmful for someone who is repenting fervently.

    66. Fear of punishment hereafter and the suffering it engenders are beneficial to all who are starting out on the spiritual way. Whoever imagines that he can make a start without such suffering and fear, and without someone to inflict them, is not merely basing his actions on sand but thinks that he can build in the air without any foundations at all; and this of course is utterly impossible, indeed, the suffering is the source of nearly all our joy, while the fear breaks the grip of all our sins and passions, and the one who inflicts these things brings us not death but eternal life.

    67. He who does not attempt to evade the suffering engendered by the fear of eternal punishment, but accepts it wholeheartedly, and even adds to it as he can, will rapidly advance into the presence of the King of kings. And as soon as he has beheld the glory of God, however obscurely, his bonds will be loosed: fear, his tormenter, will leave him, and his heart's suffering will be turned to joy. It will become a spring from which unceasing tears will flow visibly and which will fill him spiritually with peace, gentleness and inexpressible sweetness, as well as with courage and the capacity to submit to God's commandments freely and unreservedly. This is something impossible for those who are still beginners, for it is the characteristic of such as are in the middle of their spiritual journey. As for the perfect, this spring becomes a light within their hearts, suddenly changed and transformed as they are.

    68. The person inwardly illuminded by the light of the Holy Spirit cannot endure the vision of it, but falls face down on the earth and cries out in great fear and amazement, since he has seen and experienced something that is beyond nature, thought or conception. He becomes like someone suddenly inflamed with a violent fever: as though on fire and unable to endure the flames, he is beside himself, utterly incapable of controlling himself. And though he pours forth incessant tears that bring him some relief, the flame of his desire kindles all the more. Then his tears flow yet more copiously and, washed by their flow, he becomes even more radiant When, totally incandescent, he has become like light, then the saying is fulfilled, 'God is united with gods and known by them', in the sense perhaps that He is now united to those who have joined themselves to Him, and revealed to those who have come to know Him.

    69. 'Let no one deceive you with vain words' (Eph. 5:6), and let us not deceive ourselves: before we have experienced inward grief and tears there is no true repentance or change of mind in us, nor is there any fear of God in our hearts, nor have we passed sentence on ourselves, nor has our soul become conscious of the coming judgement and eternal torments. Had we accused ourselves and realized these things in ourselves, we would have immediately shed tears; for without tears our hardened hearts cannot be mollified, our souls cannot acquire spiritual humility, and we cannot be humble. If we do not attain such a state we cannot be united with the Holy Spirit. And if we have not been united with the Holy Spirit through purification, we cannot have either vision or knowledge of God, or be initiated into the hidden virtues of humility.

    -St. Symeon the New Theologian, 153 Practical and Theological Texts
    And I think this is why St. John Chrysostom spoke as he did on occasion:
    For this cause does God threaten hell, that none may fall into hell, that we all may obtain the kingdom; for this cause we too make mention continually of hell, that we may thrust you onward towards the kingdom, that when we have softened your minds by fear, we may bring you to act worthily of the kingdom. Be not then displeased at the heaviness of our words, for the heaviness of these words lightens our souls from sin.
    I don't know what else to say on the subject. Since this is not Church dogma then I suppose you can take it or leave it.

    God bless.

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/22/2009 1:24:32 AM PDT · 55 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; kosta50; stfassisi
    Not loaded, fair, ZS.

    You really think so, huh?

    Why is the West stuck at the “slave” level?
    Loaded. St. Gregory is talking about individual Christians, not geographical abstractions. As a hospital for sinners, the Church has a pastoral responsibility even and especially towards the "slaves" in Christ. This is one of those points that you neglected to address.
    Why do your preachers insist on a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” phronema when its failure is so very, very obvious?
    Loaded. I brought up St. John Chrysostom, not Jonathan Edwards, as an exemplary example of preaching on hell. Most priests and pastors don't want to touch this! This is another one of those points that you neglected to address.
    Why do they preach a Dagonesque “god” whose divine wrath could only be slaked, temporarily and selectively apparently, by the bloody slaughter of its Son?
    Loaded. It is simply calumny to suggest that this is characteristic of Western Christianity. If this is going to be your shtick then I suggest you find some Calvinists to debate (although I doubt they would agree with the "temporarily" part... also, I wonder how if the elect are saved by divine fiat as Calvinists say, that the Incarnation, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension are anything more than a kind of stage-play, but I digress...). It seems that when Calvinists talk about hell, they're talking about what they believe will happen to everyone else but could not possibly happen to them. St. John Chrysostom says something very different, doesn't he? And no, he was not speaking of a "Dagonesque “god” whose divine wrath could only be slaked ... by the bloody slaughter of its Son" in his homily on the Beatitudes, either.

    The Fathers don’t lend themselves well to proof texting since to the extent that they are not in accord with the consensus patrum their writings become at best theologoumenna.

    I'll remind you again that you were the one who brought up the Four Hundred Chapters on Love, to which I responded. If what it contains does not represent the consensus patrum (or even worse as Kosta says "not Orthodox, even less so Christian") then why did you bring it up in the first place? Perhaps you can understand why I find it a real bore when I attempt to engage a work that you recommend and all I receive from you in reply is a volley of loaded questions (along with a declaration that "the West" doesn't worship the same God as Eastern Christians) that completely ignores everything I've said. Either way, thank you for the recommendation. It is a beautiful work.

    Unless one has a patristic phronema, and my great grandmother who couldn’t spell phronema even in Greek had one and lived her life accordingly, its an exercise in futility.

    I don't doubt for a second that your great grandmother was a very holy woman. So was Mother Theresa.

    But on the subject of the patristic phronema, here's the thing: The Fathers dealt with theological discussions head on and gave reasons for what they believed and evidence that this faith was Scriptural and had been held "always, everywhere and by all". If the idea of a consensus patrum is to mean anything at all then it has to be grounded in history: It has to be based on what the Fathers actually taught, and cannot be determined simply based on what you say it is lacking any evidence. The whole idea of an esoteric understanding that others are simply incapable of perceiving is gnostic, not Christian. I agree that this discussion is becoming an exercise in futility.

    Your quote from +John Chrysostomos is an example of what I mean. His points are true and indeed we have a need, particularly nowadays after 25 years of “Greed is good” to hear it.

    So now it's not bad theology?

    But it as nothing to do with wealth being a blessing or God smiting the avaricious. Indeed, +John Chrysostomos says quite the opposite

    No, he doesn't. Regarding "smiting" (your word) we've already been over this: Both as it has to do with chastisements in this life (which are also blessings of a different kind) and with the eternal consequences for those who hate God and neglect these chastisements. The latter is of course spoken of in this same homily (which you said was bad theology) and I provided another example of him speaking of the former (see post 28).

    And even to Judas the gift of money was a blessing even though he wasted it, as St. John Chrysostom himself says:

    Yet Judas also was one of the twelve, and he too was called of Christ; but neither his being of the twelve nor his call profited him, because he had not a mind disposed to virtue. But Paul although struggling with hunger, and at a loss to procure necessary food, and daily undergoing such great sufferings, pursued with great zeal the road which leads to heaven: whereas Judas although he had been called before him, and enjoyed the same advantages as he did, and was initiated in the highest form of Christian life, and partook of the holy table and that most awful of sacred feasts, and received such grace as to be able to raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils, and often heard discourses concerning poverty, and spent so long a time in the company of Christ Himself, and was entrusted with the money of the poor, so that his passion might be soothed thereby (for he was a thief) even then did not become any better, although he had been favoured with such great condescension. For since Christ knew that he was covetous, and destined to perish on account of his love of money he not only did not demand punishment of him for this at that time, but with a view to softening down his passion he was entrusted with the money of the poor, that having some means of appeasing his greed he might be saved from falling into that appalling gulf of sin, checking the greater evil beforehand by a lesser one.

    Ping me back when you learn the distinction between theologoumenna and heresy and dogmatic and disciplinary canons.

    I'm pretty sure that I understand the difference. Do you? If something is "not Orthodox, even less so Christian" then it cannot be a theologoumennon. Again, perhaps this is something that you and Kosta should work out between yourselves.

    Also, I explicitly noted that the incidental mentions in the canons were not dogmatic pronouncements: They are merely yet another piece of evidence (of which there has already been plenty) that Godly fear is patristic.

    Look... we don't seem to be getting anywhere at all, and we never will as long as you refuse to address the evidence or at least provide some of your own, so perhaps it's time that I bow out of this discussion.

    Thank you all for the discussion, and May God bless you this day and always.

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/22/2009 12:47:05 AM PDT · 54 of 62
    Zero Sum to stfassisi; Kolokotronis

    Stealing is not a blessing, that’s for sure. But even those who have stolen can repent and then do the right thing with their ill-gotten gains. So the wealth itself (not the stealing) is a blessing because it offers a chance for correction.

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/22/2009 12:45:31 AM PDT · 53 of 62
    Zero Sum to kosta50; Kolokotronis
    I was using the example of another Cappadocian Father (+Gregory of Nyssa) to illustrate that not everything individual theologians write is considered "dogma," including +Maximos the Confessior. In order for something to become dogma it must be proclaimed as such by an ecumenical council (deemed infallible), as one voice of the whole Church, and as such meets the criterium of consensus patrum.

    You used the word "heresy" regarding St. Gregory of Nyssa's error. Also, I believe the phrase you used referring to St. Maximos' writing on fear was "not Orthodox, even less so Christian". That's saying a lot more than that it isn't dogmatic.

    The West has this ridiculous habit of citing individual works of individual theologians as "proofs" that some decision was "orthodox." Nothing could be more (self)deceiving. Neither Blessed Augustine, nor +Gregory Palamas, nor the Bishop of Rome (as far as the Orthodox are concerned) counts as the whole Church, nor can their religious opinions (theologoumenna) be considered orthodox unless it is in agreement with the consent of the Church as a whole.

    Again, Kolo was the one who brought up the Four Hundred Chapters on Love, to which I responded. The whole "proof text" criticism cuts both ways, you know (especially regarding that spurious pagan text attributed to St. Anthony); and so does referring to Ecumenical Councils in this case, because there is no declared dogma either way.

    Philokalia is not dogma. Nor does it claim to be dogma. The individual authors of Philokalia can say things that are orthodox, but nothing says that whatever they say is necessarily orthodox. Certainly, Philokalia, as a collection of patristic thoughts, reflects orthodoxy in most cases, but not necessarily in all cases.

    I understand that. But if the theology contained therein (specifically in St. Maximos' Four Hundred Chapters on Love) is not at least acceptable, then it shouldn't have been brought up in the first place.

    They mention it as a figure of speech, without any clear definition. I think it is used in place of conscience or guilt, or better yet against better judgment. It is certainly not something biblically or ecclesiastically defined.

    It seems to me that Christ's words in Luke 12:4-5 give it a pretty solid Biblical definition.

    The only fear for anyone who loves God is not of God but of oneself, because of the ever present danger of our capacity to sin and further aggravate our fallen state. Our sin doesn't affect God, but us, and sinning against someone you love should be a legitimate cause of fear that we will fail (again).

    But again, the problem is that we don't love God perfectly. If we did then there would be no question.

    Normative in the same sense as the Council of Orange is for the Latin side, or the local Latin disciplinary canons regarding celibacy, yes. Quinisext Council cannot be "Ecumenical" because of its name alone, being neither fifth nor sixth, which the Latin side rejects. As such it cannot be binding on the whole Church, but can be applied to some Churches.

    Some Churches, like yours. :)

    The prohibition you mention was based on the official Church interpretation that the Jews were responsible for crucifying Christ, and the fact that the Jews pray every day asking God to destroy the minims (heretics, usurpers, which includes Christians). Why would anyone want to have friends who pray for your destruction? I just don't see why would Christ have been crucified if the Jews didn't want him crucified?! The Romans were merely the legitimate authority to carry out such execution. We are much more "civilized" today, so we can overlook such "minor" issues/sar.

    Well... that wasn't exactly the response I was expecting. :) Honestly, I thought it was just a relic from the Empire. But you guys don't seriously follow it nowadays, do you? I mean, I've never met a Jew who wanted me dead (or if he did I probably deserved it!) And if I ever do, Christ says that I should love him and pray for him anyway, just as He loves everyone, and prayed for those who crucified Him (easier said than done, I know).

    But regarding the Crucifixion, this is from a 17th century hymn written by the Lutheran Johann Heermann:

    Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee?
    Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
    'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee;
    I crucified thee.
    We are all guilty.

    True love is to have but one unfaltering passion.

    Christ frees us from our passions, from our bondage to sin and death. Love is free from passion.

    I don't agree with +Maximos the Confessor on these issues or on his embrace of papacy. He doesn't speak for the Orthodox Church as a whole any more than Origen does.

    Origen was declared a heretic (posthumously, by about 300 years) by the Fifth Council. Personally, I think he got a raw deal given what he did for the Church (and given that he was only anathematized because some people who called themselves his disciples seized onto some of his stranger musings and used them to develop their own religion, for which Origen can hardly be blamed) but I guess "it is what it is".

    But you mention it in context of love and fear being somehow magically interlocked. Your reference misses the key element, fear!

    You're right, but it did make me think of that verse. Although I'm pretty sure that St. Paul knew the fear of God on the road to Damascus.

    There is no paradox. What leads to the end of fear is love. According to you fear ends fear.

    That's the paradox. :) Our Faith itself is a paradox:

    "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Mat 10:39)
    And Death itself was annihilated by Our Lord in death.

    But there is a serious flaw in this! Here Jesus is saying that it is God who kills you (rather than sin), and it is God who sends you to hell! That's not what the Church teaches. The East holds that God is the source of life, not death.

    OK, but I think the point of the "divine threat" is that God is greater than every created thing. As fallen creatures we are afraid of death and anything that causes death. But it's also natural to fear that which is strong instead of that which is weak, so we take our fear of created things and fear God instead. In this way we begin to cease fearing worldly things, and demons, etc.

    Fear does lead to self-control but not to love.

    But self-control leads to freedom from the passions, which allows us to love as we should.

    Experimental psychology can prove this over and over. Negative conditioning leads to avoidance and not to attraction.. Only love leads to love. Otherwise, the best way to raise out children would be to put the fear of God in them, and punish them to no end. Then they would learn to "love" us with all their hearts and minds! Don't bet on it!

    Not "punish them to no end" but for their their own benefit. Children fear punishment from their parents when they misbehave, and this is part of raising children to be responsible adults. God cares for His children through chastisements, too.

    Kolo already mentioned that the reason there are so many atheists in Europe is precisely what Kalomiros so aptly observed: who can love a tyrant?

    There are plenty of atheists in Orthodox countries, too.

    The western idea of being saved is being saved from (a wrathful) God, rather than by a loving (merciful) God ! Somehow, wrathful and "loving" are considered one and the same in this sado-masochistic western phronema of the Almighty. If you "love" someone, make sure they are terrified of you, so they can "love" you back! Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Here's another theologoumennon tidbit from St. John Chrysostom from his homily on the Beatitudes:

    Knowing therefore as we do these things, let us make our mercifulness abundant, let us give proof of much love to man, both by the use of our money, and by our actions. And if we see any one ill-treated and beaten in the market-place, whether we can pay down money, let us do it: or whether by words we may separate them, let us not be backward. For even a word has its re ward, and still more have sighs. And this the blessed Job said; But I wept for every helpless one, and I sighed when I saw a man in distress. Job 30:25 But if there be a reward for tears and sighs; when words also, and an anxious endeavor, and many things besides are added, consider how great the recompence becomes. Yea, for we too were enemies to God, and the Only-begotten reconciled us, casting himself between, and for us receiving stripes, and for us enduring death.
    It is God Himself Who reconciles us.

    The Greek word for fear means something to run away from, to avoid. How can this lead to love? But, it also just happens to mean awe. In the East it is this meaning that is applied to the fear of God. Realizing how great God is, we are awed by his mercy and love, which is a lot more conducive to trust (faith) in, and love for someone.

    BTW, Kalomiros doesn't reject the benefit derived from Godly fear at all:

    Saint Basil in the same discourse gives the explanation of these expressions of the Holy Scriptures: "It is because fear," says he, "edifies simpler people," and this is true not only for simple people but for all of us. After our fall, we need fear in order to do any profitable thing and any good to ourselves or to others. In order to understand the Holy Scriptures, say the Fathers, we must have in mind their purpose which is to save us, and to bring us little by little to an understanding of our Creator God and of our wretched condition.
  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/21/2009 12:20:18 AM PDT · 47 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis
    Why is the West stuck at the “slave” level? Why do your preachers insist on a “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” phronema when its failure is so very, very obvious? Why do they preach a Dagonesque “god” whose divine wrath could only be slaked, temporarily and selectively apparently, by the bloody slaughter of its Son?

    Loaded questions are a real bore. Let me know if you ever decide to address my points.

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/21/2009 12:17:49 AM PDT · 46 of 62
    Zero Sum to kosta50; Kolokotronis
    Look, St. Gregory of Nyssa, being a student of Orgien, at one time professed universal salvation of souls, a clear heresy. That's why the Church is bound by the Ecumenical Councils and not by theologoumenna of fallible individuals.

    Kolo was the one who brought up the Four Hundred Chapters on Love in the first place, so I responded to it. If you believe it to be heretical from an Orthodox POV then I suppose you'll have to take that up with him (but then why is it in the Philokalia?) On the other hand, I think the discussion on this thread has already sufficiently demonstrated from other sources that this is not a mere aberration from (even Eastern) Patristic thought.

    Regarding the Ecumenical Councils: I don't believe that any of them ever made any dogmatic pronouncements on the issue of Godly fear, but some of the canons mention it incidentally. See Canons 12 and 16 from the First Council, and Canon 3 from the Fourth; also see Canons 19, 41, and 96 from the Quinisext, which I understand that the Orthodox hold as normative. (Speaking of the Quinisext Council, look at Canon 11: Are you guys really forbidden from having Jewish friends and from seeing Jewish doctors???)

    So, in order to love someone you must be emotionally uninvolved?

    True love is not a matter of being tossed about by the passions. Here's St. Maximos again, FWIW:

    25. God, who is by nature good and dispassionate, loves all men equally as His handiwork. But He glorifies the virtuous man because in his will he is united to God. At the same time, in His goodness He is merciful to the sinner and by chastising him in this life brings him back to the path of virtue. Similarly, a man of good and dispassionate judgment also loves all men equally. He loves the virtuous man because of his nature and the probity of his intention; and he loves the sinner, too, because of his nature and because in his compassion he pities him for foolishly stumbling in darkness.

    Actually, the Pauline verse you reference says nothing of fear.

    But it definitely mentions faith, hope, and love. And in that order, too! :)

    [1 John 4:18]

    Yes. Again, read Chapters 81 and 82, which I provided in post 28.

    In other words, love and fear are inversely related: the more faith, the less fear you have. A perfect faith (trust) leads to zero fear and zero faith to absolute fear (hopelessness). If this is true, then your paradigm isn't, because it has fear coming out of faith, and love cannot be pure dispassion.

    God is Love, and He is impassible. And paradoxically, it is fear of God that leads to the end of fear:

    "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:4-5)
    And this fear leads to self-control, etc., and ultimately to perfect love, in which this fear is washed away.
  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/20/2009 11:57:23 PM PDT · 45 of 62
    Zero Sum to stfassisi; Kolokotronis
    “If anything sounds protestant it’s the idea that wealth and prosperity are a blessing from God to people who do nothing and are not willing to give all they have to others until it causes them suffering.”

    Wealth and prosperity are blessings from God, even if people misuse them. It's the idolatry of wealth that's evil, not the wealth itself. The rich man who despises mammon and loves Christ will not waste this blessing on his own comforts, or to do evil, and he will not do evil to obtain more; but he will use it wisely for the benefit of others. And since this blessing comes from God (as do all blessings) it is His to take away. I believe that this is what Mother Theresa was (and now Bishop Yanta is) saying, as a warning to those who idolize material prosperity so much that they are even willing to do evil for it: Such horrible evil as even murdering children in the womb.

    BTW, the following is from St. John Chrysostom's homily on Philippians to which I referred in post 25. This is what I think we need to hear (as opposed to the pernicious "prosperity gospel") but I am told that it's "bad theology":

    These things are written for our admonition. What gain have we from knowing that one of the twelve was a traitor? what profit? what advantage? Much. For, when we know whence it was that he arrived at this deadly counsel, we are on our guard that we too suffer not the like. Whence came he to this? From the love of money. He was a thief. For thirty pieces of silver he betrayed his Lord. So drunken was he with the passion, he betrayed the Lord of the world for thirty pieces of silver. What can be worse than this madness? Him to whom nothing is equivalent, nothing is equal, “before whom the nations are as nothing” (Isa. xl. 15.), Him did he betray for thirty pieces of silver. A grievous tyrant indeed is the love of gold, and terrible in putting the soul beside itself. A man is not so beside himself through drunkenness as through love of money, not so much from madness and insanity as from love of money.

    For tell me, why did you betray Him? He called you, when a man unmarked and unknown. He made you one of the twelve, He gave you a share in His teaching, He promised you ten thousand good things, He caused you to work wonders, thou were sharer of the same table, the same journeys, the same company, the same intercourse, as the rest. And were not these things sufficient to restrain you? For what reason did you betray Him? What had you to charge Him with, O wicked one? Rather, what good did you not receive at His hands? He knew your mind, and ceased not to do His part. He often said, “One of you shall betray Me.” (Matt. xxvi. 21.) He often marked you, and yet spared you, and though He knew you to be such an one, yet cast you not out of the band. He still bore with you, He still honored you, and loved you, as a true disciple, and as one of the twelve, and last of all (oh, for your vileness!), He took a towel, and with His own unsullied hands He washed your polluted feet, and even this did not keep you back. You stole the things of the poor, and that you might not go on to greater sin, He bore this too. Nothing persuaded you. Had you been a beast, or a stone, would you not have been changed by these kindnesses towards you, by these wonders, by these teachings? Though you were thus brutalized, yet still He called you, and by wondrous works He drew you, you were more senseless than a stone, to Himself. Yet for none of these things did you become better.

    You wonder perhaps at such folly of the traitor; dread therefore that which wounded him. He became such from avarice, from the love of money. Cut out this passion, for to these diseases does it give birth; it makes us impious, and causes us to be ignorant of God, though we have received ten thousand benefits at His hands. Cut it out, I entreat you, it is no common disease, it knows how to give birth to a thousand destructive deaths. We have seen his tragedy. Let us fear lest we too fall into the same snares. For this is it written, that we too should not suffer the same things. Hence did all the Evangelists relate it, that they might restrain us. Flee then far from it. Covetousness consists not alone in the love of much money, but in loving money at all. It is grievous avarice to desire more than we need. Was it talents of gold that persuaded the traitor? For thirty pieces of silver he betrayed his Lord. Do ye not remember what I said before, that covetousness is not shown in receiving much, but rather in receiving little things? See how great a crime he committed for a little gold, rather not for gold, but for pieces of silver.

    It cannot, it cannot be that an avaricious man should ever see the face of Christ! This is one of the things which are impossible. It is a root of evils, and if he that possesses one evil thing, falls from that glory, where shall he stand who bears with him the root? He who is the servant of money cannot be a true servant of Christ. Christ Himself has declared that the thing is impossible. You cannot, He says, serve God and Mammon, and, No man can serve two masters (Matt. vi. 24.), for they lay upon us contrary orders. Christ says, Spare the poor; Mammon says, Even from the naked strip off the things they have. Christ says, Empty yourself of what you have; Mammon says, Take also what you have not. Do you see the opposition, do you see the strife? How is it that a man cannot easily obey both, but must despise one? Nay, does it need proof? How so? Do we not see in very deed, that Christ is despised, and Mammon honored? Perceive ye not how that the very words are painful? How much more then the thing itself? But it does not appear so painful in reality, because we are possessed with the disease. Now if the soul be but a little cleansed of the disease, as long as it remains here, it can judge right; but when it departs elsewhere, and is seized by the fever, and is engaged in the pleasure of the thing, it has not its perception clear, it has not its tribunal uncorrupt. Christ says, Whosoever he be of you that renounces not all that he has, he cannot be My disciple (Luke xiv. 33.); Mammon says, Take the bread from the hungry. Christ says, Cover the naked (Isa. lviii. 7.); the other says, Strip the naked. Christ says, You shall not hide yourself from your own flesh, (Isa. lviii. 7.) and those of your own house; Mammon says, You shall not pity those of your own seed; though you see your mother or your father in want, despise them. Why say I father or mother? Even your own soul, he says, destroy it also. And he is obeyed! Alas! he who commands us cruel, and mad, and brutal things, is listened to rather than He who bids us gentle and healthful things! For this is hell appointed; for this, fire; for this, a river of fire; for this, a worm that dies not.
  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/18/2009 3:09:22 PM PDT · 30 of 62
    Zero Sum to kosta50; Kolokotronis
    If this is indeed what St. Maximos wrote than he was brainwashed in Rome, where he was hiding because it is not Orthodox, even less so Christian.

    He did indeed write this, and it is found near the very beginning of the Four Hundred Texts on Love. I posted this snippet merely to illustrate that faith is not the result of fear (which is obvious because one who does not believe in God will certainly not fear Him) but that it works the other way. However, I think it would be beneficial to post the context here (see also the Chapters 81 and 82 that I posted above, from the same work):

    2. Dispassion engenders love, hope in God engenders dispassion, and patience and forbearance engender hope in God; these in turn are the product of complete self-control, which itself springs from fear of God. Fear of God is the result of faith in God.

    3. If you have faith in the Lord you will fear punishment, and this fear will lead you to control the passions. Once you control the passions you will accept affliction patiently, and through such acceptance you will acquire hope in God. Hope in God separates the intellect from every worldly attachment, and when the intellect is detached in this way it will acquire love for God.
    Thus: Faith -> Fear -> Self-Control -> Patience -> Hope -> Dispassion -> Love.

    Paying special attention to the highlighted terms, we can see how this is eminently Pauline (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).

    And we can also see that you are correct that fear is not the foundation: Faith is. But the seed of faith germinates in fear; and grows in self-control, patience, hope, dispassion; and flowers in perfect love.

    But we do not love perfectly (at least I do not) and our faith needs cultivating. If we were perfect then we would not sin, and if we imagine that we are without sin then we are deceived (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). Here is more from St. Maximos:

    48. The person who fears the Lord has humility as his constant companion and, through the thoughts which humility inspires, reaches a state of divine love and thankfulness. For he recalls his former worldly way of life, the various sins he has committed and the temptations which have befallen him since his youth; and he recalls, too, how the Lord delivered him from all this, and how He led him away from a passion-dominated life to a life ruled by God. Then, together with fear, he also receives love, and in deep humility gives thanks to the Benefactor and Helmsman of our lives.

    Kolo is of course correct that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, not the end. But it IS the beginning, without which we can never attain to the end. From slaves to servants to sons:

    I know of three classes among the saved; the slaves, the hired servants, the sons. If you are a slave, be afraid of the whip; if you are a hired servant, look only to receive your hire; if you are more than this, a son, revere Him as a Father, and work that which is good, because it is good to obey a Father; and even though no reward should come of it for you, this is itself a reward, that you please your Father. Let us then take care not to despise these things.
    -St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40
  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/17/2009 8:44:50 PM PDT · 28 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; kosta50
    Only because this is not a Christian country and perhaps not even then.

    Our republic was not designed to be a "Christian country", and as you well know our Constitution explicitly forbids our government from establishing a state religion. How is this even relevant? The Roman Empire was already a "Christian country" by decree of Theodosios O Megas before St. John Chrysostom began serving as a priest and delivering his homilies to the Christians in Antioch.

    At any rate, I think you have it backwards: Preaching on hell is edifying for Christians, not for the Godless. As St. Maximos the Confessor says:

    Fear of God is the result of faith in God. If you have faith in the Lord you will fear punishment, and this fear will lead you to control your passions.
    It does not work the other way around.

    Do you believe, as Kalomiros accuses Western Christians...

    He bears false witness:

    Did you ever try to pinpoint what is the principal characteristic of Western theology? Well, its principal characteristic is that it considers God as the real cause of all evil.
    His disdain for St. Augustine is distasteful as well. Tell you what, K: When an Ecumenical Council canonizes Kalomiros the way the Fifth Council canonized St. Augustine, then perhaps I'll take his invective a bit more seriously. :)

    ...that God is the author of evil...

    Depends on what you mean by that, of course. Here is St. John Chrysostom again, Against those who say that demons govern human affairs:

    Hold fast this argument then with me, and let it ever be fixed and immoveable in your minds, that not only when he confers benefits but even when he chastises God is good and loving. For even his chastisements and his punishments are the greatest part of his beneficence, the greatest form of his providence. Whenever therefore thou seest that famines have taken place, and pestilences, and drought and immoderate rains, and irregularities in the atmosphere, or any other of the things which chasten human nature, be not distressed, nor be despondent, but worship Him who caused them, marvel at Him for His tender care. For He who does these things is such that He even chastens the body that the soul may become sound. Then does God these things saith one? God does these things, and even if the whole city, nay even if the whole universe were here I will not shrink from saying this. Would that my voice were clearer than a trumpet, and that it were possible to stand in a lofty place, and to cry aloud to all men, and to testify that God does these things. I do not say these things in arrogance but I have the prophet standing at my side, crying and saying, “There is no evil in the city which the Lord hath not done”562562 Amos iii. 6.—now evil is an ambiguous term; and I wish that you shall learn the exact meaning of each expression, in order that on account of ambiguity you may not confound the nature of the things, and fall into blasphemy.

    5. There is then evil, which is really evil; fornication, adultery, covetousness, and the countless dreadful things, which are worthy of the utmost reproach and punishment. Again there is evil, which rather is not evil, but is called so, famine, pestilence, death, disease, and others of a like kind. For these would not be evils. On this account I said they are called so only. Why then? Because, were they evils, they would not have become the sources of good to us, chastening our pride, goading our sloth, and leading us on to zeal, making us more attentive. “For when,” saith one, “he slew them, then they sought him, and they returned, and came early to God.”563563 Ps. lxxviii. 34. He calls this evil therefore which chastens them, which makes them purer, which renders them more zealous, which leads them on to love of wisdom; not that which comes under suspicion and is worthy of reproach; for that is not a work of God, but an invention of our own will, but this is for the destruction of the other. He calls then by the name of evil the affliction, which arises from our punishment; thus naming it not in regard to its own nature, but according to that view which men take of it. For since we are accustomed to call by the name of evil, not only thefts and adulteries, but also calamities; so he has called the matter, according to the estimate of mankind. This then is that which the prophet saith “There is no evil in the city which the Lord hath not done.” This too by means of Isaiah God has made clear saying “I am God who maketh peace and createth evil,”564564 Isa. xlv. 7. again naming calamities evils. This evil also Christ hints at, thus saying to the disciples, “sufficient for the day is the evil thereof,”565565 Matt. vi. 34. that is to say the affliction, the misery. It is manifest then on all sides, that he here calls punishment evil; and himself brings these upon us, affording us the greatest view of his providence. For the physician is not only to be commended when he leads forth the patient into gardens and meadows, nor even into baths and pools of water, nor yet when he sets before him a well furnished table, but when he orders him to remain without food, when he oppresses him with hunger and lays him low with thirst, confines him to his bed, both making his house a prison, and depriving him of the very light, and shadowing his room on all sides with curtains, and when he cuts, and when he cauterizes, and when he brings his bitter medicines, he is equally a physician. How is it not then preposterous to call him a physician who does so many evil things, but to blaspheme God, if at any time He doeth one of these things, if He bring on either famine or death, and to reject his providence over all? And yet He is the only true physician both of souls and bodies. On this account He often seizes this nature of ours wantoning in prosperity, and travailing with a fever of sins, and by want, and hunger, and death and other calamities and the rest of the medicines of which He knows, frees us from diseases. But the poor alone feel hunger, says one. But He does not chasten with hunger alone, but with countless other things. Him who is in poverty He has often corrected with hunger, but the rich and him who enjoys prosperity, with dangers, diseases, untimely deaths. For He is full of resources, and the medicines which He has for our salvation are manifold.

    ...that it is God Who hurls the souls of evil doers into eternal torment?

    That's one way to put it. Those in hell are scourged by God's love, right? He will not suffer them to be annihilated, no matter how much they hate Him.

    Isn’t it a fair observation that the West’s obsession with hell fire, brimstone and an angry God leads to exactly the spiritual situation we find the West in?

    No, because "the West" doesn't have any such obsession. If anything, the opposite problem is more epidemic: Most priests and pastors won't even talk about hell because it isn't a pleasant subject to hear about. But they are charged with telling us what we need to hear instead of simply what we want to hear.

    Unfortunately, it seems like most of the minorty who do talk about it are afflicted with that strange obsession you mentioned and really go off the deep end. Not surprisingly, most people don't take these nuts seriously.

    Wouldn’t it be better to teach, “Do this and you will become like God”?

    But then the natural question arises: "Oh yeah? And what if we don't do this?" These are two sides of the same coin, as St. John Chrysostom understood.

    But, ZS, that’s exactly what the West has heard for centuries. It hasn’t worked.

    Actually, it had worked for centuries. Didn't it work in the East? Are you going to tell me that St. John Chrysostom was the last firebrand homilist in the Christian East and that for the past 1600 years there has been nothing even remotely resembling his preaching?

    I do because it is misleading. The Cappadocians, +Ephraim the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian and later +Symeon the New Theologian and especially +Gregory Palamas presented a much more “effective” theology of theosis.

    Like I said, two sides of the same coin...

    Sophistication has nothing whatever to do with it.

    No, but pride certainly does... and that was my point.

    The fear of God’s punishment, ZS, is the beginning of wisdom, not the end. Read +Maximos the Confessor, Four Hundred Chapters on Love.

    81. Fear of God is of two kinds. The first is generated in us by the threat of punishment. It is through such fear that we develop in due order self-control, patience, hope in God and dispassion; and it is from dispassion that love comes. The second kind of fear is linked with love and constantly produces reverence in the soul, so that it does not grow indifferent to God because of the intimate communion of its love.

    82. The first kind of fear is expelled by perfect love when the soul has acquired this and is no longer afraid of punishment (cf. 1 John 4:18). The second kind, as we have already said, is always found united with perfect love. The first kind of fear is referred to in the following two verses: 'Out of fear of the Lord men shun evil' (Prov. 16:6), and 'Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom' (Ps. 111:10). The second kind is mentioned in the following verses: 'Fear of the Lord is pure, and endures for ever' (Ps. 19.9. LXX), and "Those who fear the Lord will not want for anything' (Ps. 34:10. LXX).
    And of course he is absolutely correct. But K... the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for the perfect:
    I could wish to discourse of the pleasures of being with Christ, though they pass all expression and all understanding. Yet would I speak of these things according to my power. But what shall I do? it is not possible to speak concerning a kingdom to one that is diseased and in fever; then we must needs speak of health. It is not possible to speak of honor to one that is brought to trial, for at that time his desire is that he be freed from judgment, and penalty, and punishment. If this be not effected, how shall the other be? It is for this cause that I am continually speaking of these things, that we may the sooner pass over to those other. For this cause does God threaten hell, that none may fall into hell, that we all may obtain the kingdom; for this cause we too make mention continually of hell, that we may thrust you onward towards the kingdom, that when we have softened your minds by fear, we may bring you to act worthily of the kingdom. Be not then displeased at the heaviness of our words, for the heaviness of these words lightens our souls from sin.
  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/17/2009 8:07:58 PM PDT · 27 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; kosta50
    That’s quite a condemnation of His Eminence. I hadn’t read that before. The metropolitan is a good man who has been better advised to stick to the Fathers and leave off the theorizing and syncretism.

    I haven't read +Kallistos' book, so I don't think I'm qualified to criticize it. Some of the quotes in the review, however, do seem a bit odd.

    Seriously, you don’t know what phronema is?

    Sure. I do not, however, know exactly what you mean by this "Western religious phronema" that at any rate has nothing to do with whether or not On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life was written by St. Anthony. Is the value placed on truth that demands that we examine the evidence objectively peculiar to this "Western religious phronema"?

    You've piqued my interest. You said that the Greek editions of the Philokalia EXPLICITLY reject the conclusion reached by the editors of the English edition as merely the product of this "Western religious phronema". Now, do these rejections actually address the facts listed by the editors, or do they simply brush off the the whole concept of objectivity as peculiar to this "Western religious phronema" so as to avoid having to deal with these facts at all? If the former, then I would be most interested to consider the arguments; if the latter, then I don't suppose there's much more to say on the matter as this would suggest that objective truth is valued only within this "Western religious phronema".

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/16/2009 11:24:52 PM PDT · 25 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; kosta50
    You know, its only the English version of the Philokalia which does that. The Greek editions reject that notion quite explicitly, suggesting that it is the product of the Western religious phronema. In fact, that oddity in the English version of the Philokalia is sometimes used as an example of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware's less than sterling grasp of Orthodox theology.

    I can see that. However, +Kallistos' questionable theological musings are completely irrelevant here. The evidence presented in the introduction to the appendix in the English addition speaks for itself and needs to be addressed on its own merits. A conclusion reached by examining the objective facts cannot simply be dismissed as a "curious assumption" (as Hieromonk Patapios puts it) nor as merely the product of the "Western religious phronema" (whatever that is). Any serious attempt to defend the alleged Antonian authorship of the work in question must address these facts and not rely on fallacious arguments ad hominem.

    Mother Theresa was not known as a great theologian, but rather as a very holy woman...she could and did make mistakes. Her comment, however, is emblematic of the "Do this or you'll go to hell" mindset of the Western Church.

    We need more of that in this country, not less. In fact, the last nine paragraphs of St. John Chrysostom's Homily 6 on Philippians (beginning with "Let us give thanks to God for what has been spoken...") provide an excellent example of some of the things that we desperately need to hear. Do you consider this bad theology as well?

    No, indeed he did use the OT. He knew that fear edifies the simpler people.

    Indeed he did (see above). And if the fear of God edified such a holy man as St. Anthony, and if the latter says that in fact this is necessary to attain to love of God; then surely we must not dare to fancy ourselves as too "sophisticated" for it.

    Come to think of it, that's likely Jenkins' whole problem in the first place: It certainly doesn't look like there is any fear of God here.

  • Gay Presbyterians Announce "God's Whole Family" Conference

    05/16/2009 3:59:58 AM PDT · 17 of 19
    Zero Sum to AxelPaulsenJr
    Let me guess: They say that they were presdestined to be gay?

    Actually, that's EXACTLY what they say.

    I used to think that there was no such thing as a liberal Calvinist... that is until homosexuals started saying that they were "born that way".

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/16/2009 3:46:47 AM PDT · 23 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; kosta50
    Wow! Now THAT sounds like St. Anthony! Thank you for posting it.

    To clarify, the spurious writings attributed to St. Anthony in the Philokalia are the "170 letters", quoted by Kalomiros as authentic. In the English edition, this work is placed in an appendix with the following introductory note:

    The piece that follows. On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life, is regarded by St Nikodimos as a genuine work by St Antony of Egypt (251-356) and so on chronological grounds it is placed as the opening writing in the Greek Philokalia. The work contains many passages of deep spiritual insight, and no doubt this is why St Nikodimos included it. It is, however, almost certainly not of Christian origin, but seems to be a compilation of extracts from various Stoic and Platonic writers of the first to fourth centuries A.D. ; there are passages which closely reflect the views of Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Sallusius. The compiler, whoever he may have been, has made some small alterations so as to eliminate non-Christian terminology, but otherwise appears to have left the material substantially unchanged.

    St Nikodimos had some doubts about the work, since twice he expresses reservations about the language used (see his editorial notes to 127 and 138), and he also found it necessary to defend the Antonian authorship of the work in his short introduction. There he argues that the work is quoted as Antony's by Peter of Damaskos; but in fact, although there are eight references to Antony in Peter, none of them is to this present piece. It will be noted that in the work there are no citations from Scripture. Although the Logos is sometimes mentioned (47, 156), there is nothing specifically Christian about these references. Nowhere is there any allusion to Jesus Christ, to the Church or to the sacraments. The Trinity is mentioned once (141), but this appears to be an interpolation, as the sentence plays no organic part in the argument. Probably the reference to the guardian angel in 62 is likewise a Christian interpolation; all that we have in this passage is the notion, familiar in Greek pagan thought, of a 'personal daemon'.

    Throughout the work the doctrine of man is Stoic or Platonic rather than Christian. Nothing is said about the fall or about man's dependence on divine grace; the soul seems to need no redemption, but advances towards God through its own inherent powers. The body is sharply contrasted with the soul (124, 142): it is regarded, not as a true part of man, but as a garment to be shed (81) or as an enemy to be hated (50, 117), although there is also a hint that the body may eventually be saved (93). Matter is considered inherently evil (50, 89). The doctrine of providence in the work is Stoic rather than Christian.

    For these reasons, the Editors of the English translation do not regard the work On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life as a Christian writing, and they have therefore placed it in an appendix.
    You know, it's kind of funny that in his attempts to paint the Christian West as having a pagan mindset, Kalomiros unwittingly quotes a pagan work as an example of the true Christian standard. :) But that's beside the point...

    Or perhaps it's not. St. Clement of Alexandria (like his student Origen, always to be taken with a grain of salt) said that as the Law prepared the Jews for the advent of Christ, so philosophy did something similar with the Greeks. Although the work that is spuriously attributed to St. Anthony is of pagan origin, it obviously has enough merit that Christians were able to see something of Providence in there and then "Christianize" the rest. But if Providence is to be seen in pagan philosophy, then how much more clearly in all the "divine threats" that we find in the Patriarchs and the Prophets? And "divine threats" are issued by Christ Himself! So regardless of the truths expressed therein, how do you quote a pagan work as if it were the epitome of Christian tradition and doctrine while lambasting this bishop (and Mother Teresa???) for bringing to mind the fear of God to which Holy Scripture (and St. Anthony!) bid us?

    "Not even remotely Patristic"?

    St. John Chrysostom certainly didn't hesitate to go "Old Testament" in his homiles when the occasion called for it.


    Ah... well at least you said one nice thing about the bishop, and I'm sure you meant it as a compliment. But I doubt that he (or any other Latin) would see it that way. :)

  • Excerpt: "The Language of God"- Francis Collins Shares Personal Testimony to Explain Reasoning

    05/14/2009 9:37:34 PM PDT · 18 of 22
    Zero Sum to mnehring


    “For on any view man is in one sense clearly made “out of” something else. He is an animal; but an animal called to be, or raised to be, or (if you like) doomed to be, something more than an animal.” -C.S. Lewis

  • Dissenter and Disuniter: Bishop John Yanta’s Letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame

    05/14/2009 5:05:33 PM PDT · 15 of 62
    Zero Sum to Kolokotronis; Boiler Plate; kosta50
    “It is because fear edifies simpler people.”

    Indeed, and it certainly edified St. Anthony:

    But he like a man filled with rage and grief turned his thoughts to the threatened fire and the gnawing worm, and setting these in array against his adversary, passed through the temptation unscathed. All this was a source of shame to his foe. For he, deeming himself like God, was now mocked by a young man; and he who boasted himself against flesh and blood was being put to flight by a man in the flesh. For the Lord was working with Antony— the Lord who for our sake took flesh and gave the body victory over the devil, so that all who truly fight can say, 'not I but the grace of God which was with me.'
    And as he told his monks:
    'So then we ought to fear God only, and despise the demons, and be in no fear of them. But the more they do these things the more let us intensify our discipline against them, for a good life and faith in God is a great weapon. At any rate they fear the fasting, the sleeplessness, the prayers, the meekness, the quietness, the contempt of money and vainglory, the humility, the love of the poor, the alms, the freedom from anger of the ascetics, and, chief of all, their piety towards Christ. Wherefore they do all things that they may not have any that trample on them, knowing the grace given to the faithful against them by the Saviour, when He says, “Behold I have given to you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the enemy.”
    By the way, the writings attributed to St. Anthony that are found in the Philokalia are almost certainly spurious... but that quote you provided in post 5 is still quite good! :)
  • Chemists see first building blocks to life on Earth

    05/14/2009 1:54:14 PM PDT · 33 of 34
    Zero Sum to mnehring; Sopater
    If you start traveling East and I start traveling West, we eventually will meet as long as we keep going or one of us doesn’t start going south.

    Actually, if you both start at the same point in the northern hemisphere and one of you starts out going east and the other starts out going west and you each travel along the geodesic (the equivalent of a "straight line" on a sphere) at the same speed then you will meet again in the southern hemisphere.

    But what does this have to do with the origins of life?

  • Statement from the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Gay and Lesbian Mental Health

    05/14/2009 1:27:46 PM PDT · 8 of 9
    Zero Sum to Maelstorm
    The Royal College of Psychiatrists holds the view that lesbian, gay and bisexual people should be regarded as valued members of society who have exactly similar rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. This includes equal access to health care, the rights and responsibilities involved in a civil partnership, the rights and responsibilities involved in procreating and bringing up children, freedom to practice a religion as a lay person or religious leader, freedom from harassment or discrimination in any sphere and a right to protection from therapies that are potentially damaging, particularly those that purport to change sexual orientation.

    Oh sweet irony...

  • Pantheon: the 1,400th Anniversary Celebration [Ecumenical] (Graphic Heavy)

    05/14/2009 1:15:41 PM PDT · 12 of 12
    Zero Sum to Pyro7480

    Those are lovely photos. If I tilt my head a little bit I can see St. George’s Cross. :)

  • Augustine's Origin of Species - How the great theologian might weigh in on the Darwin debate.

    05/12/2009 1:28:49 PM PDT · 12 of 13
    Zero Sum to freedumb2003
    No one says evolution is random. It is stochastic. I am not sure that “random” versus “unpredictable” is anything more than semantics anyway.

    It isn't. But then neither is "stochastic" versus "random".

  • High school teacher guilty of insulting Christians

    05/02/2009 1:13:06 AM PDT · 162 of 296
    Zero Sum to livius
    However, it is not anti-Christian.

    That was my first thought when I read the excerpt. Then I read the rest of the article.

    Farnan's lawsuit had cited more than 20 inflammatory statements attributed to Corbett, including "Conservatives don't want women to avoid pregnancies – that's interfering with God's work" and "When you pray for divine intervention, you're hoping that the spaghetti monster will help you get what you want."

    In an April 3 tentative ruling, however, Selna dismissed all but two of the statements as either not directly referring to religion or as being appropriate in the context of a class lecture, including the headline-grabbing "When you put on your Jesus glasses, you can't see the truth."
    Odd how everything but the least inflammatory statement was dismissed by the judge.
  • Get Ready For: "Is Sonia Sotomayor A Bad Catholic?"

    05/01/2009 4:04:35 PM PDT · 24 of 28
    Zero Sum to dangus

    The reference to five lights is to the penultimate story arc of Star Trek: The Next Generation.