31 March 2015

Wedding Cakes and Religious Freedom



Do you refuse cakes to Jews, Hindus, and Muslims? Non-religious weddings? Do you only bake cakes for members of your tiny little sect, be it only 5 or almost 500 years old (such old)? Do you ask if your couples will engage in sex during Lent or other fasting times? Do you ask them if they will go to Church and raise their children to be Christian? Do you ask into the sexual practices of every couple that arrives at your door, denying cakes for those who use birth control, who engage in other sex acts beyond the procreative function? Historic Christianity forbids not only sexual activities not allowing for  procreation, but also forbids sex acts prior to marriage or outside of marriage all together. Thomas Aquinas says any sex outside of marriage is intrinsically disordered - the same language used for same-sex sexual activity. He does not allow that male-female sex is "natural" as compared to "unnatural" but rather even the desire to have such action is disordered - because that's not why God gave us sex.


Source

Or do you only deny cakes and flowers for the one or two gay people that might show up at your door having heard good things about you from friends who love them deeply enough to wish them well at their ceremonies?

I've never had any qualms at all about attending the weddings of people who do not practice my faith (or any faith).  If they are people I love, I love them.  Likewise I don't need to wonder about their sex lives, no matter what their sexes.

That is all.

I know the Orthodox Church's teaching regarding sex and marriage. I know her teachings on idolatry, rejection of icons, and heretical sects as well. I can pray that my friends find lives more in conformity with God's will and I can be Orthodox and - remembering the Lenten prayer of St Ephrem - assume their salvation is between them and God; but with my own sinfulness they will get into heaven before I even see the light of judgement day, on which day I will be condemned for my real sins of thought, word, and deed in exactly the same way that I condemn others now for the sins I only imagine them to be committing.

Let him who is without sin throw the first stone.  In the meanwhile, I'll thank you to claim your own religion and leave mine and the name of my Lord out of it.

On the other hand, Do you need a cake baked?  Call this sinner. And pray for him.


22 March 2015

St Augustine on the Miracles of Jesus


The miracles wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ were verily divine works, and they stir up the mind of man to rise by a perception of what is seen by the eye unto an apprehension of God himself. For God is of such substance as eye cannot see, and the many miracles which he doth work in his continual rule of the whole universe, and in his providential care of everything which he hath made, are by use become so common that scarce anyone permitteth himself to perceive the same, as for example, what wondrous and amazing works of God there be in every grain of seed. Wherefore his mercy hath constrained him to keep some works to be done only at some convenient time, as it were, out of the common course and order of nature, to the intent that men may see them and wonder, not because they be greater, but because they be rarer, than those which they so lightly esteem by reason of their daily occurrence.
For to govern the whole universe is surely a greater miracle than to satisfy five thousand men with five loaves of bread. At the former works no man doth marvel, yet at the feeding of the five thousand, all men do marvel, not because it is a greater miracle than the other, but because it is a rarer one. For who is he that now feedeth the whole world? Is it not the same who, from a little grain that is sown, maketh the fulness of the harvest? God worketh in both cases in one and the same manner. He that of the sowing maketh to come the harvest, is the same that took in his hands the five barley loaves, and of them made bread to feed five thousand men. For the hands of Christ have power to do both the one and the other. He that multiplieth the grains of corn is the same that multiplied the loaves, save only that in this latter case he committed them not unto the earth whereof he is himself the Maker.
Therefore this miracle is done outwardly before us, that our souls inwardly may thereby be quickened. The same is shewn to our eyes to furnish food for thought. Thus by means of those of his works which are seen, we may come to feel awe toward him that cannot be seen. Perchance we may thereby be roused up to believe, and if we attain unto belief, we shall be purified to such good purpose that we shall begin to long to see him. Wherefore, in such wise, through the things which are seen, we may come to know him that cannot be seen. Yet it sufficeth not if we perceive only this one meaning in Christ’s miracles. Rather let us ask of the miracles themselves what they have to tell us concerning Christ ; for in all truth they speak with a tongue of their own, if only we have good will to understand the same. For Christ is the Word of God, and each and every work of the Word speaketh a word unto us.

21 March 2015

Medium: New Longer Essay Site



I have been experimenting with useing the new site, Medium, for longer-form essays. I've just published one (about 4,000 words long) called Orthodoxy and the Celibate Sodomite. I'm still a bit too long-form, because the longer essays I see over there are about half the length of mine. But sometimes you need to write it all out! Blogging has nearly always been the Readers Digest of the internet.  I need something like Medium to be more like a long-form literary journal.

It's a very enjoyable process, with focus on the writing: you can add comments and notes to a specific paragraph, it is set up to be easily shared with social networks, and you have a list of followers, etc. The stats do not (yet) show inbound links, etc.  But I'm sure they will with time.  I know I can get a domain sent over there, so I may.


01 March 2015

False Ecumensim

I do not have an "official" definition of "The Culture War".  I know it when I see it.  It's all utter bullpucky of course.  Christians have no purpose or point in any so-called "Cultural War".  We are a minority. Our Culture is the Kingdom of God. We save babies and widows, we feed the hungry even when it is illegal and we venerate icons even though Muslims try to kill us for it.  But those are not cultural propositions in the way that "democracy" or "fascism" are.  It makes no nevermind to us under what sort of gov't or laws we are called to live and worship.  We will live and worship.

However, there are some who would use our own struggles for salvation and our own lust for power for their own ends.  "I will make you like gods" is the constant whisper.  "I will give you all these kingdoms."  To this end, "Culture Wars".

In the 1970s and 1980s various parties on the American political right decided that they could court Christian votes by pretending a political goal that was "Christian".  Many folks in my social circle are too young to remember that there was a time when "Christian" and "Politics" had nothing to do with each other.  The first time I ever heard a sermon about a presidential election was during Ronald Reagan's first run for the White House.  To conservative sorts at that time it seemed like if we didn't vote for Ronald Reagan we were ignoring a gift from God.  It mattered not that he and his political handlers had many many goals that were not Christian.  It mattered not that he was (shock!) divorced.  Christians needed to support him.  We needed to ignore all our differences and vote for Republicans.  We tried it in Prohibition and it flopped there.  We've not yet learned.

This, to me, is cultural warfare: the idea that we can ignore all the things we usually think important, in order to band together and force the world around us to wear a Christian veneer.  We don't want to preach the Gospel to them: we just want them to be constrained by law to act as if they were Christian. At the end we want to close our doors at night and now that no one out outside them is acting in any way that will challenge our moral hegemony. Prohibition was a huge progressive action.  "Saving Christmas" or "Saving Marriage" are  conservative ones.

The world is going to hell in a hand basket.  What else can we do?

In short: evangelize them.  It's hard work but it is what we are actually sent to do. Not to pass laws to change the world, but rather to change ourselves.

So when I hear heretics whine about how they support the Church's morality - just treat them as normal Christians for this purpose - I know I'm reading Cultural Warfare rather than any other sort of writing: even when it is disguised as theology.  Personally, I don't care if you agree with the Orthodox Church on abortion, marriage, sex and the rest.  If you don't accept the 7 Ecumenical Councils and the last 2000 years of Orthodox Teaching, we're not on the same side.  We are, perhaps, struggling for the same salvation (only God knows that), and we may even vote the same way, but that's not the same thing.

I've got one thing to say to you: Come to Church with me on Sunday.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.