pros and cons

by Andrea Elizabeth

Is civilization a necessary evil? Or has it become so only when it comes within arms’ reach?

What comes to mind is that Russian family that escaped the communists by living in a very remote region of Siberia. They survived 40 years on barley until they were found. Shortly after, two of them died of pneumonia, that I assume was gotten from exposure to “civilization”. Then there was the Scottish island shepherds who around the same time abandoned their ancient ways of life to seek medicine after tourists brought disease to their community.

Today I also caved by taking my daughter to a high tech wound care center after trying to treat her shin wound at home for 3 weeks. We kept it free from infection with Epsom salt soaks and over the counter wound ointment, but the center wouldn’t heal over some traumatized tissue that had died. The doctor debrided it with a scalpel after numbing it with lidocaine gel. Back in the day, they did have stitches and knives and bigger scars, but I’m not willing to do that by myself. I suppose I could if civilization wasn’t within reach. I also get my teeth cleaned by similar methods so that they don’t fall out like people’s used to. I just saw a documentary on Texas National Parks that included Fort Davis which has one of the best preserved old forts in the nation. They showed the hospital ward where many young soldiers died from things they wouldn’t have died from today.

But nature is so much more peaceful and beautiful than cities. Until something goes wrong. Then people leave to get help. The Indians were able to develop natural remedies that didn’t destroy nature. I really like Native Americans. I find them less savage than civilized people’s assault on nature. I wish I’d known a toothless medicine man who could have treated her wound better than I did.

British cheerfulness

by Andrea Elizabeth

Searched for and oddly found in the same quote collection as last post’s.

Quote Originally Posted by Bill Bryson

And the British are so easy to please. It is the most extraordinary thing. They actually like their pleasures small. That is why so many of their treats – tea cakes, scones, crumpets, rock cakes, rich tea biscuits, fruit Shrewsbury- are so cautiously flavorful. They are the only people in the world who think of jam and currants as thrilling constituents of a pudding or cake. Offer them something genuinely tempting – a slice of gateau or a choice of chocolates from a box – and they will nearly always hesitate and begin to worry that it’s unwarranted and excessive, as if any pleasure beyond a very modest threshold is vaguely unseemly.
“Oh, I shouldn’t really,” they say.
“Oh, go on,” you prod encouragingly
“Well, just a small one then,” they say and dartingly take a small one, and then get a look as if they have just done something terribly devilish. All this is completely alien to the American mind. To an American the whole purpose of living, the one constant confirmation of continued existence, is to cram as much sensual pleasure as possible into one’s mouth more or less continuously. Gratification, instant and lavish, is a birthright. You may well say “Oh, I shouldn’t really” if someone tells you to take a deep breath.
I used to be puzzled by the curious attitude of the British to pleasure, and that tireless, dogged optimism of theirs that allowed them to attach an upbeat turn of phrase to the direst inadequacies – “Mustn’t grumble,” “It makes a change,” “You could do worse,” “It’s not much, but it’s cheap and cheerful,” “Well, it was quitenice” – but gradually I came around to their way of thinking and my life has never been happier.” 

Bill Bryson on communism done right

by Andrea Elizabeth

It has long seemed to me unfortunate – and I am taking a global view here – that such an important experiment in social organization [communism] was left to the Russians when the British clearly would have managed it so much better. All those things that are necessary to the successful implementation of a rigorous socialist system are, after all, second nature to the British. For a start, they like going without. They are great at pulling together, particularly in the face of adversity, for a perceived common good. They will queue patiently for indefinite periods and accept with rare fortitude the imposition of rationing, bland diets, and sudden inconvenient shortages of staple goods, as anyone who has ever looked for bread in a supermarket on a Saturday afternoon will know. They are comfortable with faceless bureaucracies and, as Mrs. Thatcher proved, tolerant of dictatorship. They will wait uncomplainingly for years for an operation or the delivery of household appliance. They have a natural gift for making excellent, muttered jokes about authority without ever actually challenging it, and they derive universal satisfaction from the sight of the rich and powerful brought low. Most of those above the age of twenty-five already dress like East Germans. The conditions, in a word, are right.” From Notes from a Small Island

why people should be able to pick the bathroom they want to use

by Andrea Elizabeth

  1. the women’s bathroom lines can be too long.
  2. urinals do not provide enough privacy and there aren’t enough stalls.
  3. men in the men’s room should not be subjected to the eyes of gay, female identifying men.
  4. women in the women’s room should not be subjected to the eyes of gay, male identifying women.
  5. if a straight female identifying man is in the women’s bathroom, the girls should be able to flee to the men’s.
  6. vice versa.
  7. if there is a fleeing woman in the men’s bathroom, the men should be able to go to the women’s bathroom that has a straight female identifying man in it.
  8. vice versa.

the good, the bad, and the secular

by Andrea Elizabeth

To develop this statement about human bestowed logoi from the previous post, I’ll change the good, the bad, and the secular to: the holy, the profane, and the street. First to reiterate, I think people get it wrong when they equate the street, or secular life, with worldly passions. Additionally, I think they also get it wrong when they strive for a theocracy in government and law, which rules the street. I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to secular life. Passions are when our desires and strivings are in a state of imbalance that tilts towards greed. However the objects of those desires and our need for them are not bad. When you say that food, shelter, women, art, money and relationship are bad you have tilted towards gnosticism/dualism.

Monarchies used to rule with the idea that they were divinely appointed to rule in God’s name. Most people scoff at that now, but there are still holdouts. The last Tsar of Holy Russia is very much a dividing figure in that regard. On one hand he is considered to have lived in a bubble where his home life was holy and ideal, but that he was out of touch with the needs of his country. On the other hand he is viewed as a martyred saint.

I like royalty and believe good things can come from that style of government, but not automatically divine things. One reason I don’t like to study western history is that it is usually a documentation of wars, which I don’t believe were holy.

Secularism is the market. Do we need the market? It’s hard to say. From very early times trading was going on. The first instance that comes to mind is Esau trading his birthright for stew, but that is considered bad. He was legitimately hungry though. He chose secularism to holiness. Paul says it’s better not to get married because you will have to be concerned with the world/street/secularism. He did not say it was evil or bad to do so. But is forsaking the word for everyone? Yes, to some extent we are all called to die to ourselves and seek holiness. ‘To some extent’ sounds like a compromising way to say it, but what I’m trying to protect is that family people in particular have to trade in the world to put food on the table. In most monasteries even they do business with the outside world. The only monastics who don’t are desert hermits who are fed directly by God. Is everyone else compromised and unholy? Can’t be because there are non desert hermits who are Saints.

So in the last post I talked about evil government Nazis, and this post about misguided holy theocracies, but haven’t spelled out that the street is basically a neutral trade route. Don’t expect more from that or put it on the same moral grounds as holy church life or evil conspiracies. Don’t get all outraged, nor pietistically bleary eyed. This is why I don’t care if Donald Trump is elected. He seems practical about breadwinning, and that’s it. Ted Cruz is on a holy crusade, and I think that is delusional. And since Obama’s government views itself as the holy church of the down and out and has gotten so self-righteous about it, I don’t care if Trump makes mistakes that cause large parts of it to collapse. It’s better than Sanders making it even holier and more inflated. And Clinton is the most greedy.

So it sounds like I’m advocating a division between church and state. Isn’t this why the emperor was a different person than the patriarch? Charlemagne tried to holify his role too much. Not that an emperor can’t be a saint either. Sts. Justinian and Constantine were, but they protected Orthodoxy and didn’t presume to improve it. I was worried that talking about the morality of laws was going to get me into a quagmire, but it’s already sorted itself out. Since the west split from the Orthodox Church, it’s better that it’s laws be viewed from a street-level, secular/trade oriented standpoint instead of becoming misguided morality policemen. Otherwise the left has to protect the immoral from the right’s misguided, stone throwing self-righteousness.

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

by Andrea Elizabeth

During one of the Q&A’s, Fr. Maximos was asked if man-made things have a logos. Fr. said no, only natural, God-made objects do. I would propose that man-made objects have a different logos. This is a combination of a God-created and man-manipulated logos, meaning intention. I believe God created nature to be somewhat manipulated, or cultivated. The discussion was many faceted covering things like gmo’s, atomic bombs and sky-scrapers which were strongly felt to be very unnatural. Items worked for use in the Church were not designated as having a logos. I believe that artificially (in the Aristotelian sense) manufactured items are imbued with a creatively inspired logos that God has given man the ability to bestow on his creation. There are three possible categories for these logoi: consecrated for good, evil, or for secular use. Even if an Auschwitz gas chamber were made, I don’t think it is totally without a logos. The stones and metal have been abused. They are still performing their God-given functions of strength and distribution, but to their dismay are being used for ill. I think decommissioned Auschwitz is a shrine to those whose lives were lost, the devil’s enslavement of the Nazi soldiers, who still have a logos by the way, and the abused materials that made the buildings.

To say a manufactured product, which also includes fine art, has a divine logos is to say that God determined that that piece would be made exactly as it was. This is how Calvinists view the Bible. Contrarily, if we think that the stories in the Bible were also influenced by human free will, then the Bible is a combination of divine and human intention.

It’s kind of like God is the grandfather of man-made things. Grandchildren have the DNA of the grandparent, but of three other grandparents as well.

Back to naturally created things, I saw a PBS show a while ago that said that geology is changed when man is present. I wish I could remember more, but I think it was saying that man’s simple act of breathing chemically changes his environment. If that is true, then nothing is untainted by human manipulation.

By the way, I don’t agree with Aristotle’s quote in my title either. There was a similar division proposed in the lectures between the outward appearance and inner essence of a thing as well. I don’t think the outer and inner are so divorced from each other. St. Maximus taught that Christ came to heal divided things. Granted inner and outer isn’t listed in his famous five*, but still. The superficial is a respected part of an object and can communicate a lot about it, like a face in an icon does. It does take spiritual sight to see the divine, but the divine doesn’t destroy the created thing, which is the whole point of the burning bush. The fire and the bush are significant.

*created and uncreated, intelligible and sensible, heaven and earth, paradise and universe, male and female. from here, which is not where I originally got it. I think it was from Dr. Joseph Farrell’s introduction from St. Maximus’ Disputation with Pyrrhus, but it may have been from On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ.

Thank you, nature

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have listened so far to 4.5 out of 7 lectures by Fr. Maximos Costas, the translator of The Ambigua by St. Maximos the Confessor, on St. Maximus, given at St. George Orthodox Church in San Diego this past February at their Sts. Sebastian and Mrdarije Institute. Sorry but I don’t see the lectures available online. I know Fr. Maximos has podcasts available on Ancient Faith Radio, but I’m not sure on what subjects. His latest topic that I am listening to is on the contemplation of nature. Nature reveals God sort of like a handkerchief covering an invisible object could reveal something about that object. This reminds me of reading St. Nicholas Veimirovich’s The Universe as Symbols and Signs where parts of creation can lead us to contemplation of God, like a door can remind us of Christ being the door, etc. Fr. Maximos said that nature both reveals and conceals God.

I like to write about points of disagreement rather than just retelling something. I’m not sure I disagree with this teaching, but there is more I wish were said. I do intend to read The Ambigua which may offer more, but I’m kind of doubting it will. I’m not saying St. Maximos has gnostic tendencies, but I could tease this out of him if I were inclined. I’m not inclined, but I’ll just say the following anyway. Seeing nature as an explanation of God is good when one is weaning themselves off of passionate, short-sighted attachment to creation divorced from God. I believe the attachment, wait, maybe not even the attachment, maybe just our consciousness of what we are attached to and our over-the-top, out of control acts, are what is divorced from God. Say we’ve taken a step back and developed detachment towards creation and want to see it for what it is, and not to have power over it, possess it, or consume it unduly. Seeing it as an explanation of God can still put it in the utilitarian category of what this thing can do for me. That it’s a means to an end that I can dispose of, or at least move through or past. What I would like to hear is that nature participates in God, not just reveals and conceals him. Call me a panentheist, but the prayer to the Holy Spirit does say that he is everywhere present and fills all things. I don’t believe nature is God, but I do believe it is enlivened and given identity on its own by him, in addition to communicating who he is, and I’ll also say communicating with who he is. This is why poets and the Psalms personify nature. Rocks can cry out. Jimmy Fallon should be thanking objects for what they are, but not just for what they are to us. Nature is not just a means to an end, even if it does want to be used well.

What if God weren’t there?

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have always believed that God could hear my prayers and my thoughts. I’ve always had an audience and company. It’s always mattered if God were pleased or not with what he saw or heard. At least eventually. 

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be an atheist, but I suppose I’ll try. What if he weren’t there listening? There would be no call to prayer or dedication to an other. I would at the same time be unto myself, no one, and everything equally. All would be random acts of coincidental nature. But I don’t know anyone who really believes that. A true atheist would be beholden to no one, not even himself. He may submit to his urges, but he wouldn’t think it mattered. 

Here’s what author John Le Carre said about atheism:

a Mingrelian proverb … : ‘Why do you want light if you’re blind?’

p 53I am not a God man, though I believe society is the better for Him than without Him. I do not reject Him, as Larry does, and then go scurrying after Him to apologise. But I do not accept Him either.

If deep down I believe in some central meaning, some Urgeist, as Larry would call it, my route to it is more likely to be the aesthetic one — the autumnal beauty of the Mendips, say, or Emma playing Liszt for me — than the path of prayer.
p 82-3

– John le Carre’ (David Cornwell), Our Game (Knopf: New York 1995)” from here 

I quote him because of my impressions of the movie, The Constant Gardener, which is based on his book. The bleakness of its humanitarianism makes me believe that atheists, or those who at least ignore God, actually believe themselves to be God. That they are the witnesses of everyone’s thoughts and prayers, and it is they who must be pleased.

This is the pride of life that does not just infect the non religious. But are we not aware of the thoughts of others? Because of communication we are at least somewhat aware. But are we to be pleased. Or to please. 

Obey is a word Le Carre also had a hard time with.  

“When I ask, he says his great distrust of organised religion is a consequence of his detestation of the painful forms of authority forced upon him by various schools.” From here

It seems that to believe in goodness and meaning and obedience, one must be religious. But do we always recognize meaning and goodness and those who enforce/teach it. People believe they do, but that they, meaning I, are/am the only ones/one. This is why a baby cries with so much authority. 

So to be a true atheist, when one is not pleased, one should say, why should I be. And a good deist should wonder the same thing.


by Andrea Elizabeth

I met Loki Monday at my daughter’s horse barn where one of the equestrians had caught and named him after he’d been straying in the neighborhood for quite some time. Ms. Carrie, who already has nine dogs, put him in the maybe 20×20 chain link enclosure to see if he would get claimed or adopted. I thought he was beautiful, but we already have two dogs over my husband’s limit, which is none. He’s bonded to them more than he lets on. Ms. Carrie says Loki is about 9 months old and probably a designer husky/golden retriever mix. I thought, Ben (my son) has always liked shepherd/husky type dogs. He needs a traveling/walking buddy, so… I sent him the above picture and we waited. I went ahead and saddled and rode Copper, a strawberry blonde Arabian/Quarter horse mix. When I rode close to Loki’s kennel he’d get excited, then when I turned away he’d howl like a coyote. After I got off, gave Copper his treats and turned him out, I thought I should see what Loki’s like, since Ms. Carrie said he was really sweet. I detached Copper’s lead rope from his halter, which I was still holding, and opened the kennel a crack and could barely contain him coming out on top of me. He is very strong and can pull really hard against his collar. But I got it fastened and tried to keep him from dragging me towards the barn. He knows how to stop, though, so we did that every now and then as I pet him. We got to the chair and I sat down and he leaned against my leg. I told Rebecca to take a picture and we sent that as well so Ben could see scale size and how sweet he was being at the moment. Right after that, a neighbor’s huge, burly, black dog whose name, Dually, I couldn’t remember, started coming towards us and Loki started growling. This scared me since ‘Bruno’ wasn’t on a leash, so I took Loki into the barn and shut the gate where Ms. Carrie was body-clipping Calypso, a cute little gray dappled Andalusian horse. She said, ‘you have to be assertive and not let him rudely growl, but it’s ok that you brought him in here’. She told me to go out the back of the barn and walk him in the back pasture. So he drug me that direction, and went through the gate before I opened it. I was able to untangle and keep hold of the lead rope from the gate well enough. So we started sledding and I thought, he’s been pent up all day and probably needs to run so I started jogging. He was surprised and jogged with me at my same speed. I thought, this is fun and good exercise. Ben may like doing this. Until Gracie, the 2yo black filly decided to meet and greet. I was about to let her when about 10 other horses started coming towards us. Oh dear. Horses can trample dogs. At first Loki started growling and lunging, but I assertively told him to hush, pulled him close, and whipped the long end of the rope towards the horses, telling them sternly to back off. I had to hit one of them. They weren’t charging, but weren’t respecting personal space either. I’m not sure if they wanted to greet or wanted the dog out of their territory. I had to keep shooing them the whole rest of the way back towards one of the front gates. Loki kept by my legs and stayed sweet. I thought that meant he would bond pretty well with a human. Annabel, who was in the round pen working Cappi, an amazingly trained level 4 at least dressage horse, handed me her whip that has a rod going down the first half for reach, which the horses respect more than the rope. My daughter Rebecca met me at the fence, took the rope and let Loki slip through the bars while I fended off the horses, returned the whip, and made my way to the smaller, easier to open gate. Schwew. Assertive situations are scary.

After we’d left, Ben texted the practical difficulties of having a dog in an apartment in the city and such, but was willing to be talked out of them pretty easily. He finally said he wanted to meet him, so we met last night at the barn.

It wasn’t obvious love at first sight, mainly because Ben was being a little cagey, but I later found out he’d already been discussing names with his other sister before he even came out. She was also smitten with the picture and said she’d babysit “EVERY DAY”, as she and her roommates have a back yard. Loki was scared when Ben went into the enclosure. He barked, growled, and stayed 10 feet away, even though Ben was crouching down and being low key. Maybe he’d been scared by men before. Ben finally gave up and came out. I took the lead rope that was hanging from the fence and did what I did last time, which he a little less enthusiastically participated in. He started pulling and sniffing everything and then Ben stealthily took the end of the rope which was behind me. I let go and Loki didn’t care. Ben slowly started pulling back, and after Loki let him pet him, he started leading him. I told Ben about his liking to run, so Ben did that, and I’m pretty sure he was convinced at that point that it would work out. Especially when Loki stopped and leaned against his leg. I told him he could just try him out, and maybe the city dog shelter where he lives wouldn’t be so likely to euthanize as the local one was. So Ben flipped up the back seats of his truck and took a little while coaxing him to jump in, which he finally did, looking to me for reassurance.

epilogue: We went to Petsmart and bought a kennel for his apartment and bought a really cool silver reflective collar/harness/leash set, food, brush, bowls, treats, and such. He didn’t have time to go to Walmart to get some of the items cheaper. When we went back to the truck, Loki was pushing towards me and I told him he was Ben’s dog now. It was weird how he quit looking at me after that and started looking towards Ben instead for reassurance. Apparently last night Loki didn’t like his kennel very much, but that will take time. I don’t know if he howled or not. Ben’s brother Jordan and Jordan’s cat like him. Ben made the vet appointment for Friday, researched nearby dog parks, and seems pretty settled about the matter. The End.

First Antiphon

by Andrea Elizabeth

Первый антифон

Pyervoi Antifon

First Antiphon

Хор 1-й: Благослови, душе моя, Господа. Благословен еси, Господи. Благослови, душе моя, Господа, и вся внутренняя моя Имя святое Его.

Blagoslovi, dushye moya, Gospoda. Blagosloven yesi, Gospodi. Blagoslovi, dushye moya, Gospoda, e vsya vnutrennyaya moya imya svyatoye Yego.

Bless, soul my, the Lord. Blessed art Thou, O Lord. Bless, soul my, the Lord, and all within me name holy Thy.

Хор 2-й: Благослови, душе моя, Господа, и не забывай всех воздаяний Его.

Bless, soul my, the Lord, and not forget all has done He.

Хор 1-й: Очищающаго вся беззакония твоя, исцеляющаго вся недуги твоя.

(who) makes clean all iniquities thine, makes healed all diseases thine.

Хор 2-й: Избавляющаго от истления живот твой, венчающаго тя милостию и щедротами.

Redeemeth from corruption life thy, crowneth you mercy and compassion.

Хор 1-й: Исполняющаго во благих желание твое: обновится, яко орля, юность твоя.

Satisfieth with good things: renewed, as looking back, youth

Хор 2-й: Творяй милостыни Господь, и судьбу всем обидимым.

Worketh mercies Lord, and judgments them that are wronged

Хор 1-й: Сказа пути Своя Моисеови, сыновом Израилевым хотения Своя.

Proposal ways unto Moses, sons Israel His will unto.

Хор 2-й: Щедр и милостив Господь, долготерпелив и многомилостив.

Compassionate and merciful is Lord, Longsuffering and many mercies.

Хор 1-й: Не до конца прогневается, ниже в век враждует.

Not unto the end angry, Neither unto eternity enmity.

Хор 2-й: Не по беззаконием нашим сотворил есть нам, ниже по грехом нашим воздал есть нам.

Not unto iniquities our created/dealt with he us, neither according to sins our rewarded he us.

Хор 1-й: Яко по высоте небесней от земли, утвердил есть Господь милость Свою на боящихся Его.

For unto height heaven above earth, hath made him the Lord mercies unto those who fear Him.

Хор 2-й: Елико отстоят востоцы от запад, удалил есть от нас беззакония наша.

As far as separated east from west, removed from us transgressions our.

Хор 1-й: Якоже щедрит отец сыны, ущедри Господь боящихся Его.

Like compassions father sons, so compassions Lord on those who fear him.

Хор 2-й: Яко Той позна создание наше, помяну, яко персть есмы.

For He knew createdness our, remembered, that dust are.

Хор 1-й: Человек, яко трава дние его, яко цвет сельный, тако оцветет.

Man, as grass days are, as color field so shall he flourish.

Хор 2-й: Яко дух пройде в нем, и не будет, и не познает ктому места своего.

For wind passes over it, then gone, and not known whereof place its.

Хор 1-й: Милость же Господня от века и до века на боящихся Его.

Mercy of Lord from ages to ages on those that fear him.

Хор 2-й: И правда Его на сынех сынов, хранящих завет Его, и помнящих заповеди Его творити я.

And righteousness his on sons of sons, keep testimonies his, and remember comandments his to do them.

Хор 1-й: Господь на небеси уготова Престол Свой, и Царство Его всеми обладает.

The Lord in heaven hath prepared throne his, and Kingdom His over all ruleth.

Хор 2-й: Благословите Господа, ангели Его, сильнии крепостию, творящии слово Его, услышати глас словес Его.

Bless the Lord, angels of his, mighty in strength, perform word his, hearing voice words His.

Хор 1-й: Благословите Господа, вся силы Его, слуги Его, творящии волю Его.

Bless the Lord, all hosts his, ministers his, do will his.

Хор 2-й: Благословите Господа, вся дела Его, на всяком месте владычества Его.

Bless the Lord, all works his, in every place dominion his.

Хор 1-й: Слава Отцу и Сыну и Святому Духу.

Glory Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

Хор 2-й: И ныне и присно и во веки веков. Аминь.

Now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Хор 1-й: Благослови, душе моя, Господа, и вся внутренняя моя, имя святое Его. Благословен еси, Господи.

Bless, soul my, the Lord, and all within me, name holy His. Blessed art thou, Oh Lord.

Slavonic/Russian from here. some translated text from here. and google translate and Katzner’s dictionary.


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