Teh Gay as First World Issue

Toying with an idea…

  1. Same sex attraction seems to be a universal human and other-species event – not that all species or all humans have it, but it seems common enough to need no special comment. It seems it may be a natural part of  life events, a dysfunction, a mutation or a part of something we’ve not yet discerned.
        
  2. Throughout most of human history you got married and you raised kids to preserve the family, to care for you in old age, to work the farm, to hunt the woolly mammoth. Sexual attraction, per se, wasn’t an issue. Seemingly – likewise by tradition – same-sex action was used as punishment or pleasure, as venting or whatever, but as a secondary reality.
     
  3. People were not “Gay or Straight” but rather sexual. Sex did some things (legal/good/social) and some other things (illegal/not good/anti-social) and even some other things (commercial/military/social+anti-social).  In some cultures there were roles for what we might consider as “sexual transgressors” such as effeminate men cross dressing and living as women, but in other cultures these roles did not exist.  These were not sexual identities as we have now, but rather functions of sex.
        
  4. Marriage, as an institution, preserved so much of society in its very self that the idea of not participating was unthinkable. Until very recently not participating in marriage (unless you were a monastic) also meant that you were become a burden on the family or else alone – totally alone. The spinster aunt in the garret, the bachelor farmer, the crazy cousin who always needs family support.
        
  5. Only in very wealthy societies do we have the wherewithal to imagine that just because we feel something we must act on it.  Only in wealthy societies can we take a feeling and require it to become our identity – and cause others to develop identities either with us or in opposition to us.
        
  6. Only in wealthier societies focused on individualism do we have the finances – and the leisure – to explore such things. Wealth alone is not enough: as in many wealthy societies (ancient and modern Empires, including Ancient Rome and the British Empire in the 17th-Early 20th Centuries) heterosexual marriage was not only the norm but de rigueur even for those who were same-sex attracted as a component of social identity and mobility, as a quality of class standing and economic stability. It’s leisure: the time to say ‘I don’t have to grow my own food, care for my parents/children, work-all-day-and-sleep-all-night, so I can explore my feelings’.
        
  7. In the modern world we have decided that wealth, individualism and freedom of choice/action are supreme moral imperatives. When we “liberate” another society or make economic contact with another society and say things like “wealth and personal freedom” they catch our morals too. Even in “First World” countries poorer communities do not have the same issues because the family is such an important part of fiscal viability that opting out is not considered until one leaves the community.
        
  8. The choice to be sexual active or not is a freedom granted by our wealth and leisure. It would not be a valid choice, even in a more liberal culture, 150 years ago neither in a less-wealthy culture now.
        
  9. The idea that we are right and therefore everyone must yield to our desires/cultural choices is as solidly as based on mere personal and/or cultural bias as any religious claim that we are wrong. 

Daily Office, 29 Jan – 15 Feb AD 2014

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.

I don’t usually post this far forward: The links are all valid, but the daily offices are being edited – they will be ready by the day you click on them. This will get us right up to the I Vespers of Septuagesima!


January

  1. Wednesday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2. Thursday – Feria (St Martina, VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3. Friday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.

February

  1.  Saturday – St Ignatius of Antioch (Bridget of Ireland V) – MPEPMartyrology.
  2.  Purification of the BVM (Sunday 4th after Epiphany)MPEPMartyrology.
  3.  Monday – St Blaise B.M. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4.  Tuesday – New Martyrs of Russia (St Joseph of Aleppo) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5.  Wednesday – St Agatha, VM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6.  Thursday – St Photius, CD (St Dorothy) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7.  Friday – St. Romuald, Abt – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  8.  Saturday – BVM Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  9.  Sunday 5th after Epiphany (St Cyril of Alexandria BCD, St Apollonia VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  10.  Monday – St Scholastica, V – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  11.  Tuesday – St. Gregory II, P.M. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  12.  Wednesday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  13.  Thursday – Kentigern, BC – MP – EP –  Martyrology.
  14.  Friday – St Valentine PM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  15.  Saturday – BVM Ss Faustinus and Jovita MM – MP – Martyrology.

Daily Office 18 – 26 Jan A.D. 2014

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.


  1. Satruday – BVM (St Peter’s Chair at Rome) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2. Sunday 2nd after Epiphany Ss Maris, Martha, Audifax and Habakkuk, Persian, MM at Rome; St Mark Evgenikos, B. of Ephesus – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3. Monday – Ss Fabian P. & Sebastian, Mm at Rome – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4. Tuesday – St Agnes, VM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5. Wednesday – Feria (Ss Vincent, Dea. M. & Anastasius, M.) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6. Thursday – Feria (St Merentiana, VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7. Friday – St Timothy, B. – MPEP –  Martyrology.
  8. Saturday – The Conversation of St Paul, Apostle MPEPMartyrology.
  9. Sunday 3rd after Epiphany St Polycarp, B. – MP – EP – Martyrology.

St Augustine on the Created Beauty

Wherever I look, heaven and earth and all that is in them tell me that I should love you, Lord; and they cease not to tell it to all men, so that there is no excuse for them. But what is it that I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. It is not these I love when I love God. Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God – the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. It is this that I love, when I love my God.
And what is the object of my love? I asked the earth and it answered: “I am not he”; and all things that are in the earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the depths and the creeping things, and they answered: “We are not your God; seek higher.” I asked the winds that blow, and the whole air with all that is in it answered: “Anaximenes was wrong; I am not God.” I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they answered: “Neither are we God whom you seek.” And I said to all the things that throng about the gateways of the senses: “Tell me of my God, since you are not he. Tell me something of him.” And they cried out in a great voice: He made us. My question was my gazing upon them, and their answer was their beauty. I asked the whole frame of the universe about my God and it answered me: “I am not he, but he made me.”
Surely this beauty should be self-evident to all of sound mind? Then why does it not speak to everyone in the same way? Animals great and small see it, but cannot put a question about it; for in them reason does not sit in judgement upon the evidence of their senses. But men can question it, and so should be able clearly to see the invisible things of God understood by things which are made; but they love created things too much and become subject to them, and subjects cannot judge. All these things refuse to answer those who ask, unless they ask with power to judge. If one person merely sees the world, while another not only sees but questions it, the world does not change its speech – that is, its outward appearance which speaks – in such a way as to appear differently to the two people; but it presents exactly the same face to each, saying nothing to the one, but answering the other: or rather it gives its answer to all, but it is only understood by those who hear its outward voice through their senses and compare it with the truth within themselves. For truth says to me: “Your God is not heaven or earth or any corporeal thing.”
St Augustine, Confessions X.6; Word in Season V.

Daily Office Readings 12 – 18 Jan AD 2014

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate supplemented with other devotional material. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.


  1. Sunday within the 8va of the Epiphany The Holy Family; St Benedict Biscop – MP – EP –  Martyrology.
  2. Monday – Octave day of the Epiphany – MPEPMartyrology.
  3. Tuesday – St Hilary, B, St Felis, P. St Sava (Sabas), B.C., – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4. Wednesday – St Maurus, B; St Paul the First Hermit, C. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5. Thursday – Feria (St Marcellus I, Pope, M.) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6. Friday – St Anthony the Great, Ab. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7. Saturday – BVM (St Peter’s Chair at Rome) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  8. Sunday 2nd after Epiphany Ss Maris, Martha, Audifax and Habakkuk, Persian, MM at Rome; St Mark Evgenikos, B. of Ephesus – MP – EP – Martyrology.

An Important Announcement!

Know, dearly beloved Brethren, that by the mercy of God, as we have been rejoicing in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also do we announce unto you the joy of the Resurrection of the same our Saviour.
Septuagesima Sunday will be on the 16th day of February.

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the fast of most holy Lent will be on the 5th of March.

On the 20th of April we shall celebrate with joy the holy Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ will be on the 29th of May.

The Feast of Pentecost on the 8th of June.

The Feast of Corpus Christi on the 19th of the same month.

On the 30th of November will occur the first Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom are honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I am Herod.

Notes from Father’s Sermon yesterday.
1. We like to compare ourselves to shepherds and magi
2. We know where the messiah is to be born, we have a wealth of patristic commentary, we are surrounded by support for our faith yet we most often decide to act in a most unfaithful way.
3. We are more like Herod.
4. It is our simple daily choices that make it so.
5. We have a standard of living in America higher than Herod could imagine… But we fail in charity.
6. Being mindful on a moment to moment basis of our actions and choices in light of our faith is what is needed.

A.D. VIII Kal. Jan.

I
n the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when in the beginning God created heaven and earth; from the flood, the 2957th year; from the birth of Abraham, the 2015th year; from Moses and the going-out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1510th year; from the anointing of David as king, the 1032nd year; in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the 194th Olympiad; from the founding of the city of Rome, the 752nd year; in the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace, in the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, having become man.

From the Royal Hours for Nativity

Today he who holds creation in the hollow of his hand is born of a Virgin.
Today he who holds creation in the hollow of his hand is born of a Virgin.
Today he who holds creation in the hollow of his hand is born of a Virgin.

He who in his being cannot be touched is wrapped in swaddling clothes as a mortal child.
God who of old established the heavens in the beginning now lies in a manger.
He who rained Manna on the People in the desert is fed at his mother’s breast.
The Bridegroom of the Church calls the Magi to himself.
The Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts.

We venerate thy birth, O Christ
We venerate thy birth, O Christ
We venerate thy birth, O Christ

Show us also your divine Theophany.

Ducking Out.

I had a friend back east, a pastor in a “mainline” denomination who had engaged me to talk about Orthodox spirituality in an Adult Sunday School class. Now, I’ll be honest, my friend whom I love and pray for always is an Alpha Male who does not gracefully yield his teaching space. So, while I was there to talk about Orthodoxy, I spent some good part of the class responding to his comments which were, I will be honest, probably what most of his liberal mainline congregants were thinking. Yet they were coming as more interruptions rather than discussion… I blew most of them off. One, however sticks with me.

In discussing the Jesus Prayer, my friend commented “I never say that prayer because I don’t want to internalize all that.” My initial reply was “that’s the point”. But I had missed his point. “No I mean that stuff about being a sinner begging for mercy.” Now, to be fair, the Jesus Prayer comes in several edits – long and short. The Greek text in the image above (and on the ring I wear on my hand) does not have the “Sinner” bit. The longer one I favor is, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy and, through the prayer of thy most pure mother of (your patron saint) and of all the saints, save me, a sinner.” “Jesu-Mercy” is the shorted one I know.  But variations on the theme were not the point.

It is such a Christian common-place: we are all sinners.  What was he even talking about? How can you conceive of a Christianity where we are not sinners? What is even the point? I smiled. Did this mean that everything I was saying – predicated on the most basic of Christian doctrines – was being missed?  The answer is yes, I fear so. If we’re not sinners, God doesn’t need to incarnate, Jesus isn’t God, the Church is a social justice movement and Orthodox Spirituality (western or eastern) is totally meaningless or, else, just “spiritual but not religious” tools that can be picked up by anyone to any purpose (other than the intended one – to save sinners, of whom I am first). What might the Alpha Male Pastor have thought of Orthodox Communion prayers!

This even came to mind yesterday when my Twitter Feed and Google Plus light up with comments about Phil Robertson, the Patriarch of TV’s Duck Dynasty who, it seems, actually reads the Bible and can quote it. I am more than certain that he and I would disagree on a whole host of theological points so much that we might both ask if the other is even Christian at all. I am also rather certain that, when it comes to sex, Mr Robertson fails – as do most straight folks I know – to have enough imagination to include all the possibilities of same-sex expression. But on one thing he and I agree. The Christian teachings (scripture and tradition) is quite clear about this: sex outside of the bonds of Holy Matrimony is a sin.  We will agree, perhaps, in a second and third place: all sins are equal, being sins that all divide us from God; and all of us are sinners. Some version of the word “Sin” was used 4 times there and liberal mainliners might stress out a bit much reading it.

“I don’t want to internalize all that.

That line came up so many times yesterday, couched in terms such as “homophobia”, “hatred” and “bigotry”. The modern world has no defense against the term “sin” other than rejection of the category. You can’t say someone is a sinner without hating them, right? Certainly enough hatred has been spouted by christian leaders at various categories of person, but Phil Robertson hasn’t done so, as far as I can see.  What he also didn’t do is the blasted thing that many members of the BLT/GQ community do: the assumption that action equals identity. For most members of the Queer Community, Action-as-Identity is expressed this way: “I feel this and so I act on it, if you say I can’t act on it, you are denying my very person.” Phil, however, never said word one about gay people: he was clear “homosexual behavior” iis the problem.

We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?

He does seem to fall into the error of equating it all with a choice – just make a choice for something else and it will all go away. Now, I don’t believe homosexuality is a choice. Actions however, are a choice. I don’t believe in Ex-gays, nor do I believe in sticking some unfortunate woman with my sexual misfirings in the name of “passing”. But we can bicker about reactions later.  Here, I want to ask, did anyone writing comments actually read the damn article? It’s rather mild and enjoyable compared to the way everyone’s been making it out.  Even the writer – who starts out with that urban elite attitude that makes me want to punch him – seems sympathetic at the end. And he can shoot.

So what’s the problem with sin? Well… the reactions of sexual active Queer folks to being called sinners by Robertson is exactly the reaction of Capitalists to being called sinners by the Pope.  It’s the same whinge Satan made first, “Yer not the boss of me!”  Each of us – Capitalist, Queer, whatever – is stuck insisting I’m the boss of me and no one else. Referring to the Owner’s manual only makes it worse, so we rewite the manual and leave out the rough parts. In the end it’s a matter of faith – not fact – because if there is no judgement, it’s all good and if there is… well… we’ll all know too late. The writer admits: what’s surprising about this? We put self-described Bible-thumpers on TV. Who should be shocked when they thump?

“Hollywood has run upon the kingdom of God, and there’s a rub there,” said the Duck Commander, a tenacious personal evangelist who has brought hundreds of souls to new life in the Ouachita River. “Well, we have to be as harmless as a dove and as shrewd as a snake in the way we deal with them.” – 

See more of this interview here

The reaction of various members of the queer community to religious types shouldn’t be news. They don’t like being called sinners.  Quelle Supris. What’s infuriating about this is the story Phil tells, of A&E editing out religious references (yes: not all). It’s not reality tv, it’s virtual reality TV that lets everyone watch and see what they want.  It’s not surprising either, mind you: We don’t want white trash on TV we want well-trained respectable Uncle white trash. We don’t want Christians, we want House-Christians.