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Posts from the ‘Life’ Category


The Book Of Questions…

Life would be so much easier if God had put in a book of questions, with all the answers to the pressing problems that plague us daily…

But alas, no such book exists, so we the finite, try to make sense of the infinite. And that’s when things start to go awry, the minute a finite being gets his sticky little fingers on anything relating to the infinite, it’s bound to get screwed up.

I’ve been wrestling with my faith since Weston’s passing, it was the proverbial straw on the camels back. It also showed me just how brutal life can be. I knew, but it had been a while since it hit so close to home. So maybe I was due for a reminder, but as I stepped back to re-evaluate,  a common theme kept rising to the surface…

No one on this planet understands who, or what God is. And I mean no one, especially the churches (and yes this includes the ancient ones as well). I don’t know why, but it seems that God rather than being clear, left a book of stories and examples all written by the hand of his broken vessels, and then he stepped back and let chaos reign. If there’s a divine purpose in the way religion has been woven into the fabric of our history, I sure can’t see it. Even something as basic as God being all about love, can be argued when put into the hands of men, look at the Westboro Baptist, or any of the reformed who make God into a capricious monster, demanding complete obedience to their message, OR ELSE!

Even in the ancient faiths, a parishes tone is set by the priest (who is just as fallible as the rest of us), and not the faith being taught. This holds true for protestant, Catholic and Orthodox, no one is immune. Some are focused on the rules like a bureaucrat looking for fault, and others are more focused on reaching out, or just mentoring the flock. Even in the Catholic faith you find this disparity of application to the way a parish is run, and like it or not this goes all the way to even how the sacraments are managed in some parishes.

I’ve been involved in this Christian thing since I was 19 years old, I’ve had the opportunity to experience a great many of the protestant faiths, I’ve been Catholic and recently Orthodox. Each has had it’s share of pro’s and con’s, each has some point of emphasis, be it rules, scripture, tradition, asceticism, or morality. Normally one is not emphasized to the exclusion of the others (though some come close), but all have one they tend to focus on more than the others.

I will say that the ancient faiths on the whole are much more likely to allow an open discussion about difficult topics, while many of the protestant faiths take a much more inclusive view of anything foreign to their paradigm. Part of that in my opinion, is that when your faith has a long  and solid history (and by that I mean more than the 500 year nonsense we get today from the protestant religions), you have a tendency to be more open to hard discussions, because your faith isn’t going to change with the weather. The one thing I very much appreciate about both the Orthodox and the Catholic churches, is that you cannot just join them, you have to study and move into the lifestyle, because in their eyes once you commit, there is no going back. Plus each puts incredible emphasis on the Eucharist, which if your going to follow scripture, and the teachings of Christ is as it should be.

So where is all this leading…

I’m not sure anymore, I’ve become a pretty solid Agnostic Believer, meaning I believe in God and Christ, but I don’t really believe in any of the organized religions. That might change, given time, and I might ultimately decide it’s the best thing for my sanity. I’m certainly not interested in Atheism, I’ve done too much study to make that leap of faith, but where I land in all this is a big unknown at the moment.

I have come to view religion as a kind of members only club, with each offering it’s view of how salvation works according to their interpretation. The honest ones, and there are a few, freely admit that salvation is something God is responsible for, and they are in no position to say who is and who isn’t saved. Philosophy and Apologetic’s in the end are just tools used to defend our ideas and concepts of how we see faith and religion, as I’ve mentioned before the biggest downfall that I’ve seen with apologists is an innate drive to always have the right answer. I remember while converting away from Catholicism reading a very famous Catholic Apologist, who summed up Papal infallibility in one little neatly trimmed quote from a church father. It was such a pathetic attempt to shore up his and the Catholic churches opinion on the matter, that it offended me. The quoted text was hardly conclusive, and there has been a great deal of discussion about what it does and doesn’t say, but none of that matters, and why burden seekers with such menial and unimportant details?

But we can’t just blame the apologists, the reason so many are popular is not because they are right, but because they tell us they have the answer all buttoned up nice and neat, it’s what we want. It’s a fools errand to base your salvation or belief on the mumbling philosophy of another man. In fact this applies to the Church Fathers as well, because God knows the ancient churches love to quote them as proof positive that they are in the right (and trust me, there are many quotes that no one agrees on). What they say really depends on what you believe, this goes for all involved, sorry but it’s true. Much like quoting scripture out of context, humans on the whole are more than content to quote those who have come before them to shore up their system of belief.

Let’s take this example a step further and go the core…

The Eucharist, which Christ himself commanded, is a cause for celebration among all Christians, regardless of faith. But in the West they used Unleavened bread, and in the East they use Leavened, both use wine, and the protestants don’t know what to use. East and West core ceremonies are similar in many ways, but protestants are usually very different in form (and in some cases, disrespectful!). Men got involved, and now I cannot take communion with anyone, without going out of communion with the others. Certainly all sides have doctrinal differences, I’m not going to try and minimize that, but I will tell you that ALL claim to be the one true church, left behind by Christ. I will say that the Protestant faiths get the Eucharist wrong for the most part, and that the Eastern and Western churches give it the honor and reverance it deserves. But even there I cannot commune with East or West, without going out of communion with the other, Technically I’ve not been ex-communicated by either, so I could go to reconciliation, ask for forgiveness and commune with one side or the other. But since both believe in THE SAME GOD, THE SAME CHRIST, THE SAME FLIPPING BIBLE, and in many many cases THE SAME EUCHARISTIC PRACTICES.


But apparently it does, at least Pope Francis seems willing to begin to try and heal the rift which is probably the most Christ like thing I’ve seen in my lifetime. I am sick to death of men who cling to their traditions, and practices with a death grip, not willing to budge even an inch out of their comfort zone. It’s almost as if God is not big enough to get around the kind of bread, the position you receive in, the liturgy you practice, or the vessel used to hold the wine. It’s all so infuriating, and it’s something that I’m not sure I can deal with anymore. So many I have met on this journey have an almost fanatical adherence to what I could call arbitrary traditions that have morphed into rules, which are then declared as part of the faith. I certainly can’t imagine Christ turning someone away because they didn’t follow some man made set of rules, he certainly didn’t follow those kind of precepts while he was here.

Maybe this is the protestant in me coming out, but I have a brain, I have free will (regardless of what the reformed think), and I’m capable of making my own determination of what’s right and wrong. I have a very deeply embedded rejection of anything that smells of extremism or thoughtless obedience, in point of fact it makes me hyper-sensitive to to some issues, and I have to be careful to keep it in check. But when we are arguing over the details, aren’t we missing the whole point what we are trying to do in the first place?

Christians are being murdered for their faith all over the world, and Bill Nye the science idiot, and Ken Ham the young earth, literal genesis moron, are going have a debate about science and the bible. Boy howdy, that will really help those people in Syria.  The Crouch’s are having a war over their satellite empire, Joel Osteen is selling another feel good book, and Mark Driscoll is out using twitter to sell his latest interpretation of his belief system all while showing just what a classy guy he is by doing it at the Strange Fire conference. And all over this great land, we are worshiping at the altars of our celebrity pastors/rock stars.

The world is full of very intelligent people who want nothing more than to be led, to let someone else set their boundaries, and tell them how to live. It’s why even the worst of cults rarely have problems finding acolytes, all you need is someone to convincingly believe, and your all set. Again, this is why so many Apologists and Preachers become celebrities in their own right.

They can have it, I’m done with it all.  Maybe there is some type of divine humor in Christ talking about believers as sheep. Bah!!

As for me.. I’m spent, I’m empty on the inside. The man that was is, is becoming no longer…

I’ve taken my seat on the sidelines, and until the ringmaster shows up, I think I may just stay right here.


Requiem for a friend

Today I lost someone close to my heart, I dare say that he was my best friend, and is without any doubt a permanent part of my family, even if time and distance have separated us. He could be infuriating, stubborn, geeky, smart, and sometimes just clueless. But he was always kind and gentle, and was there through thick and thin, we made quite the odd couple. My two boys grew up knowing him as their uncle, and both have very fond memories of time spent together. The Christmases, and Thanksgivings when we had so very little to share, and friendship was a gift that was priceless.

There were computers, compilers, languages, all the things young budding programmers needed to get by, and enough coke and Pepsi to later in life make me pre-diabetic, but it was worth it. The day we ordered the Lint pre-compiler, and then sat in horror as it tore apart every facet of our carefully coded system. It was only later that we discovered a chapter called ‘Living with Lint’, it’s humorous now, but then it was end of the world! Commodore 64’s, Amiga’s, learning to program on PC’s, all the BBS’s, games and software we collected and wrote.

Terrible old cars that barely ran and required constant tinkering…

The little yellow Miata that ended up in my Garage for a new clutch, and then taking it out and doing burn outs to make sure the clutch disk was good!! All the birds and their ridiculous antics, Pepper who loved to say his name over and over and over and over and over and over… The Gigantic bird aviary we made in your back yard. Darkrooms full of black and white pictures, an old garage turned into a photography studio, then turned into a programming office. So much possibility all the time, life was still new, and experience was something we would gather as we moved forward now.

Playing Jean Michelle Jarre CD’s, ELO, Rush, and just about everything else…

The waterbed that was filled too far, and flooded the room, the old Jacuzzi we used to sit in and plan. Software reviews, getting written about in a publication, writing our own BBS that eventually led to our being hired by another company. The wacky marriage in Vegas, and the heartbreaking divorce that eventually pushed us all away, that and my fundamentalism which I never got to ask forgiveness for.

So many memories, I can never go back, but I can re-live them by remembering how special those times were. it’s images, words, impressions, emotions and a sense of great loss.

I’m not sure I have many tears left, Iv’e been silently crying for a long time now, and now at the end, I’m not sure how to react. My heart is broken, my soul is mortally wounded at the senseless loss. I ache for the family left behind, both ours, and yours, frustrated at my inability to travel out and talk to you one last time, to tell you how much you meant to my life, my children, my family.

Michelle and I both have cried, we have both prayed, and right now I’m empty. I know more tears will come, but first we have to move past the shock, and then deal with such a tragic loss.

Be at peace my friend, take your rest and wait. You will see me again, in fact you can warn them I’m coming, I have questions and we both know how that can be.

Memory Eternal,

Lord have mercy on us all.



Overcoming the things that hold us down

We all have sinned, we are all sinners, May God have mercy on our souls.

Some things come along and happen once, we ask forgiveness and move on, but some things stick around, and eventually begin to destroy our faith. It could be sexual, physical, emotional, but we all have them, and they all eat away at the foundations of our faith.

It can be disheartening to try and live a faithful life, while at the same time you carry this dark secret, it can destroy you from the inside out. I know, I’ve been there, many times. There are countless books on how to deal with recurring sin, I’m sure those authors are very good at what they say, I even given some of them money to try and overcome things I was dealing with.

In the end I think I found a very simple solution, mind you that it’s not quick, it’s not brilliant or life changing, it’s just simple common sense with a couple of steps. If you are dealing with something that is eating away at your soul, and you feel ashamed every time you enter a church, let me give you some very simple advise:


We are ALL sinners, all of us. There is no exception outside Christ, and there is nothing you can do that will drive away the love of God. That may sound cheesy, but think of it this way, the Priest who hands out communion is a sinner just like you. No one you come in contact with lives perfect and sinless life, even the most pious monks, and Priests struggle with sin, they have confessors just like we do.

I know when you are in the middle of a habitual sin, it seems as if there is no hope, but there is a creator who’s love is vastly stronger than anything we can do.


Find a confessor, a Priest,  a Deacon, Someone in the Clergy and confess. Get it off your chest and ask for forgiveness and advice. Many times our view becomes warped, and it takes someone else to see past the sin and provide some solid advice. Don’t be ashamed, let it rip, Priests who are confessors (Catholic and Orthodox) cannot share the information with anyone, and have been given apostolic authority to give absolution. So your secret is safe, and a good confessor will help give you steps so that you can overcome your sin. I’ve been there, I know how hard it is, but I also know that once you confess, the burden lifts and your heart can be set free.


Perform. Daily. Prayer.

Let me repeat that.

Perform. Daily. Prayer.

No exceptions, the length of time does NOT matter, you don’t have to collapse on the floor and scream out to God (unless your REALLY inclined to do so, then have at it). But the simple act of praying every day will have a HUGE impact on your faith, and once you begin to strengthen that, you will find overcoming the sin in your life becomes easier and easier.

Also find a good prayer book, and then find a prayer that fits your need and recite it every day, soon you will find that the prayer enters your heart and illumines your being. I do the Troparion every morning, and I keep an index card of people I need to pray for. I rarely miss my prayer time, and my wife joins in from time to time, and that’s beginning to effect (in a great way) our relationship.


Find something else to fill the time you sin, anything will do. I tie fly fishing fly’s, or find good books, or watch T.V. I do those things INSTEAD of my sin, it won’t come easy, there is no ‘miracle cure’ here, but if you occupy your hands and mind with other things, you will find after a while that you start sinning less and less. Again it’s a simple thing, but it’s also VERY powerful.


Celebrate EVERY little victory, overcoming a habitual sin takes time and effort, you have to WANT to overcome it. You will have set backs, DON’T STOP. Pick yourself up and keep going, it WILL get easier. I fell time after time after time, but I never gave up, eventually I noticed that I was slowly moving away from my sin, until I realized one day it had been weeks since I had done it. I didn’t run into the street screaming I’m Free, I’m Free (as fun as that would be). I used the victory to put my guards up and to make sure I don’t slip back, I was tempted badly last night, and I simply refused to feel the shame and pain again, and it never happened. I call that a win :)

Again, this is not life changing advice, but it has worked for me, and it took a very long time. But I have finally changed and no longer have to deal with habitual sin, I wont say that it will work for you, but it worked for me…



Random Thoughts – July Edition

I’ve been so busy with work and dealing with the crash of our finances, that I’ve not had much time to come up for air. I read the SCOTUS decision on DOMA, it took me a couple of minutes to dig through it…

I just knew there was a wave of anger coming from believers the minute I read the decision,  the blaming and shaming would begin and the real discussion about what SCOTUS said would get lost.

Tim Kimberly weighed in on the topic with a good reasonable opinion, and then generated some heat from the comments section. You can read it here:

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Sure enough, the next morning my iPad reader was full of commentaries from the Christian Community, they ran all the way from quoting the old testament lamentations, throwing ash on ourselves and wearing sack cloth (which could be a new fashion trend), to blaming the whole thing on our apathy.

My take is pretty simple, I think Tim’s right and we are now, and have been for quite a while, a secular society. Despite the culture wars, and battle mentality of some in the Church, this country was founded on the belief that faith, and personal belief should not be  legislated but protected. And yet I find so many in the Church who want to change that, they aren’t happy that others don’t share their delicate beliefs, and want our government to fix the situation.

I’m also tired of hearing the nonsense about our founding fathers all being Christian, any first year student of history will tell you that it’s not that simple, and disingenuous to suggest such a thing. That doesn’t mean they didn’t believe in religious freedom, they did. But their personal beliefs are all over the board, sorry revisionists but that’s the truth.

The Supreme Court, whether you agree with them or not, made the right decision, we cannot, or should not legislate morality at the federal level. And we certainly should not single out one belief system or another and hold it in higher regard than others at a federal level, the fed’s job is not to play that role, and the minute we change that we have lost what the founding fathers attempted to do.

We are not redefining ‘Holy Matrimony’ as defined by the church, but simply allowing marriage at a state level to be defined there. Obama stated that there is no desire to force Churches to accept the new definitions, and while I don’t always trust him, I believe him in this case. There’s no benefit in doing so, in this country the Church gets to believe what it wants, regardless of how one feels about that. If we have that type of religious freedom then, it needs to flow the other way. You may not agree with same sex marriages, that is your right, but you also don’t get to legislate them out, unless we as a society deem they are destructive as a whole.

Do I care if same sex couples get married?, not really, I don’t think it’s the end of society, at least I haven’t started building my bunker yet. There are much more pressing issues to focus on, Abortion is the killing of our own kind, and I think one could easily make the case that it sets a precedent that hurts our society as a whole. Same sex marriage, outside the church?, not so much.

I was also amused to read Kirk Cameron’s take on the issue, it was the old shame game, it’s all our fault, because we didn’t do enough, or witness enough, on and on and on the blame goes. I left that world a long time ago, and it feels good to be looking at it from the outside.

Apple and the Post Jobs Era…

I’m an admitted Apple Fan boy, have been for a long long time. I was very pleased with the new changes to iOS that Apple is making, and have decided to get back into programming on the side. I do some much administrative work in my day to day job, that I don’t get to code as much as I used too, and I miss it. Plus I find the OS X and iOS platforms fascinating.

I think Apple is doing fine without Steve at the helm any longer, and the latest changes show they are still innovating, and pushing the envelope in design. I wasn’t blown away by the new Mac Pro, but I’m intrigued. It looks like Darth Vader’s life support system from the outside, but it is impressive on paper, and will probably be outrageously expensive…

Converting to Orthodoxy

We got a chance to sit with Fr. Fenn this week and discuss our current personal situation, it was uplifting to hear his struggles which mirror mine in so many ways. And he didn’t give me sophistry, he gave us some good solid advice and shared Christs love with us, it was a shelter in the middle of the storm, and much appreciated.

He told me to not hold back in sharing my frustration with God, but I’m actually not mad at God this time, I’m mad at myself. So my prayer has been to ask for mercy, it’s all I can think to do.

The other topic that came up was our entrance into the Church, he is off for the next week to a conference and is going to talk to the Bishop about finally pulling the trigger on bringing us officially into the Church. It’s been just about two years, we have been slowly bringing the Orthodox Ascetics into our daily lives. And the one thing that I shared with him was that I have not been able to do reconciliation in over two years, and that weighs on my soul. So hopefully the Bishop will approve our entrance into the Church and we can finally be whole again.

Please Forgive me a sinner…




iStock_000003364641XSmallI have been a lifelong asthmatic, since the age of three it has dominated my life in one form or another. From the age of three I learned that the disease which affected my lungs also removed any semblance of control I had over my life. I’m what you would call an incredibly independent person, I like to be self sustaining, and very much dislike having to depend on others. There are exceptions but they are few and far between, and to this day I struggle with the need to control my environment.

Letting go has never been an option.

I’m not one to psychoanalyze myself, but I’m pretty sure it stems from the feeling of helplessness with my asthma growing up. I have distinct memories of my mother and father arguing violently about my refusal to take the sulphur flavored syrup that helped me breathe better, or my refusal to take a shot in the emergency room and three nurses, an orderly and my tearful mother all sitting on me to administer the said injection. The dentist who had red hair, bad breath, and the bed side manner of Jeffery Dahmer, who drilled on a tooth while I squirmed and tried to hide from the pain. Looking back so much of my life was left in the hands of others that I did everything possible to retain what little control I could exert on my situation.

It wasn’t until my late 30’s that I finally allowed a dentist to even touch me, and then only on my terms. My fear of all things medical and my need for control have led to some epic moments I now fully regret. The time I slipped through a pool vent cover, and tore my shin down to the bone, and my walking out on a Dr. who could not take the time to share a little empathy with a patient already terrified of needles. It was my wife who reminded the good Dr, that unless he could take the time to treat me with compassion, he had little room to complain when I walked out of his ER with an open wound that could be fatal.

All of that has driven how I approach my faith, there was a time when I didn’t ask hard questions, when I simply believed. But when I saw the truth and the hypocrisy of those who claimed to know the truth, my natural and expected reaction was to take matters into my own hands. That decision as expected, had consequences…

It led me down a long and winding path where I moved from Church to Church, looking for the truth and only finding human frailty. It also forced me into a mode of Scholasticism, where knowledge became my saving grace. And once you start down that road, it’s a long way back to eden. God in his grace and wisdom has brought changes into my life that have slowly forced me to rely on him more and more, but I still have a very deep and strong desire to remain in control.  It colors my choices, it’s colors my life, and paints everything with the brush of skepticism.

As Michelle and I have moved from Catholicism to Orthodoxy, we have been forced to let go of more and more, and trust, not just God. But also those around us, we have learned to put our hearts out on the line, to open what before that which was tightly held in private. It has changed us, and will continue to do so.

I haven’t fully let go yet, I don’t know if I ever can, but every day I learn a little bit more about trust, and every day I let go of my control just a little more. Maybe I’ll have all worked out before I die, but most likely, I’ll go to my grave on my terms, in a red casket with ghost flames!


Unbearably Me…

I have character flaws, it’s part of my humanity, part of the whole that shapes who I am.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks writing this, while at home my wife is hosting a party for a baby baptism of a friend. It’s been a busy day, I was up early to kick off a project for the office, I worked out, then I was in the office doing testing and managing the project. The work that my team did today was successful, it’s a big relief, but when I called home to see what was going on, I found that a group of people who I have no emotional connection to are at my home celebrating.

The party was my wife’s idea, and I’ve supported her efforts, but now that the day has arrived, I find old habits rearing their ugly head. I have no desire to entertain people I don’t know, and one that my wife and I share a friendship with. I also don’t want to spoil their celebration, it’s a worthy thing to be celebrating. But I’m 50 years old, and I’ve been down this road many many times before, and the minute I show up, I will be forced into what they are doing. And because my wife’s friend knows us both will be hurt if I don’t make a showing of being happy she’s there.

Truth be told, there is so much drama in my life, that I really don’t want to get involved in yet another families drama. I wish them well, I just don’t have the emotional strength to be part of a mess, that in my view they created for themselves.

Hard, unfair maybe, but very true.

I sometimes wish I was different, that I could be like others and be more open, but I am at my very core a private man, who has certain places that I consider to be sacred. My rocking chair next to the window and the TV is one of those, like the altar we keep on the upstairs landing, it’s my go to spot when I need to decompress. And the only people I share it with are those who I have let into inner reaches of my heart.

In the parish that we attend the Priests wife has battled cancer and is now cancer free, but when we joined the parish, I had to ask myself if I really had the emotional depth to deal with that situation if God forbid it took a dark turn. It tool me a long time to come to grips with the whole picture, and today she is like a long lost sister. But I feel ashamed that I was so cold and calculating in deciding if I was ready to deal with the situation before we joined the parish.

I’m never sure if I should apologize for who I am, or just be content being me. It’s a question I’ve never been able to answer, I’m socially awkward at times, and sometimes I shame myself. But it’s part of my makeup, and I’m not sure I can ever change it, or if it even makes sense to change it.

One of the most beautiful things I found in Orthodoxy was that we each are on our own journey, and there is no judgement if I’m not ready to accept some parts of the faith. Last night talking to Fr. Mark we talked about the final leg of the fast, I joked that the Orthodox take fasting and lent and at the very end crank the knobs to 12. He said some of the faithful will even not eat for the final two days, to which I quizzed him on how many parish members became crashers during the final service. I meant it partly in humor and partly because I get fasting, but at this point of my walk, I don’t ‘get’ making myself suffer that much to celebrate lent (well is it a celebration then).

So there’s part of it, the flaws in the man. The parts of me that I don’t share very often.

God Forgive Me, A Sinner.



The Pope, My Head, And Some Good Friends

I read the news today about the Pope stepping down at the end of the month, it was a little surprising but for me it shows the character of the Joseph Ratzinger. Even before becoming Catholic I admired Pope Benedict, I think he did a great job during a very difficult time for the Church, and I have been encouraged as he began to stamp out the odd liberalism that has plagued the Catholic Church since Vatican II. In the next month we are going to be inundated with opinions about what the Catholic Church should address next, I’m sure there will be no end to the homosexual and women as clergy nonsense. I also expect contraception to be high on the list, while I don’t agree %100 with the church on this issue when it comes to marriage, I do support the church on the rest of the issues surrounding contraception, and I’m %100 with them on Abortion.

But here’s the thing, I think what Pope Benedict is doing shows just how good of a Pope he is, we live in very fast times, the information age has changed the way we  do theology, live our lives, and learn about who we are. It has allowed an uprising of opposition voices to overwhelm the Church’s message at times, and the Vatican has been a little slow in coming around. It’s part of the history of the Church, when your two thousand years old, let’s see how fast you can react. But I think in this time of rising apostasy the church needs someone at the helm who can take charge and deal with the worlds changes head on. Ratzinger knows this, and it’s been obvious for a while that he has not been well physically, so the move to retire is the best move he could make. It shows his love of the Church, and his desire for her to confront the onslaught she faces in today’s world. I know Catholics are sad he’s leaving, but you could not have asked for a better man to fill that position, and it’s clear that rather than hold onto the position, he desires more than anything, that the Church go forward. The man is a Saint in my book, and I have nothing but respect for what he’s doing.

Now to my noggin:

Two weeks ago I was walking into work, carrying a box of cookies in one hand, and my iPad Mini in the other. It was a very cold January morning, it had been snowing and was warm the day before, as I approached our office I noticed a co-working walking about 30 feet in front of me. What happened next I can’t tell you, because the next thing I knew, my co-worker was sitting over me patting me on the fact trying to wake me up. It gets a little fuzzy after that, I remember my fingers tingling like crazy and two co-workers helping me walk into the building. I sat at my desk and started to feel bad, it was about that time that my boss called an ambulance. Next thing I know I’m surrounded by men who are talking to me, checking my vitals and finally strapping me to a board and carting me out the front door. This was not how I wanted to leave work that day!

I always wondered what it would be like to ride in the Ambulance, and now I know, and friends, it’s not good. First they roll you in, your strapped down 20 ways from sunday, and your stretcher locks into the frame of the vehicle, which means any bump it hits, you feel. As we got rolling the paramedic pulls out and I.V. kit, I asked him if he was seriously going to do that while we where moving?, and he said “It’s not a problem, I do this all the time”. Well maybe not a problem for him, but for me it hurt like hell, so not only was I dizzy, he poked with an 18 gauge needle!

Once we arrived at the emergency room, my shirt was removed and I was sent to get a CT scan to see if I had scrambled my noggin. The E.R. however was packed with other people who had suffered my same fate, so I sat, or rather laid, with a neck brace in a room waiting to be seen. Uncomfortable does not cover it, Michelle showed up and I not afraid to admit that I shed some tears, it was all so overwhelming for me. Finally after about 30 minutes they pull me in to scan my noggin. Now I’m a big guy, and it took four nurses to move me onto the CT machine, they do it just like you see on T.V. shows, hup, heave, and over. I laid there unable to move while the machine spun away, then I was hup, heaved, and back over to my stretcher, and back into my room.

It was then they gave me some pain killers and nausea meds through the I.V. and for a time, Life was good. Then the Doc showed up, no visible damage, but most likely a concussion, and a good one at that. He wanted to me to try and sit up, little did I know that my brain had other insidious plans… The moment I moved from laying on the stretcher to sitting upright, the room transformed into Mr. Toads Wild Adventure, and spun like crazy. I almost lost my breakfast, so the nurse, being the angel that she was, gave me more drugs. And that did the trick I was able to slowly sit up, and eventually walk. After about three hours, they let me leave, but I had to see a specialist later in the week. It turns out that I have a level 4 concussion, and walking for the first week was an adventure, just going to the bathroom was like a funhouse of evil. And laying down to go to sleep, well, have you ever watched a cat watching a ping pong ball bounce up and down. That was pretty much what my eyes did, it was loads of fun.

I finally got in to see the Doc, and he basically told me to go home, rest, no computer, no laptop, no tablet, short amounts of reading and T.V. And that it would take a couple of weeks to heal, my balance would be wonky, and I was not to drive. So I have spent the last two weeks driving the recliner, watching terrible old T.V. shows, lots of documentaries, read theology and Lee Child books. I’ve been bored out of my mind. Finally today I saw the doc, did my third test, and was finally cleared for work starting next week, which is the best news I could get. It’s been quite an adventure, I’m considering a hockey helmet at all times, and we actually bought strap on spikes for my shoes.

This episode while painful and frustrating, has taught me a valuable lesson. We have people who love and support us no matter what, it’s been humbling how much support we have gotten through this. We are not yet fully Orthodox, but the family has stepped up in such a big way to support us that I’m at odds on how to say thank you correctly. We have friends who are from a different faith completely, and have shown more grace and the love of Christ than anyone else we know. I think the lesson here was to learn to let go, it’s a hard lesson for both of us, especially me the control freak. God has blessed us through both the church family at the Antiochian parish, and through friends who just want to make sure we are taken care of.

I’m not sure how many more CSI reruns I can watch on Hulu, computer time is still limited (I’m just about out of Gas on this now), but I can’t help but to feel truly blessed by God, and the people around us.



Entering the Church and House Blessings

Last Sunday during the celebration of Theophany, we were accepted as catechumens into the Orthodox church, going from Catholic to Orthodox has been a long and complicated process. It’s been a year since we started talking to Fr Mark about converting. Digging into Theology, Doctrine, and the Orthopraxy of the church. There have numerous conversations about converting, and even going back to our local Parish. I have been ready for some time to convert, but Michelle had reservations she had to work through. But I was not going to go through the process without her, she needed my support, and so I waited patiently (sometimes!).

During the year, circumstances beyond our control forced us to re-evaluate our lives. I think what finally pushed us to make the decision was the grace and love we felt from Fr. Fenn and his wife Michelle (or “Matushka” meaning teacher, as she is known). Not once did we feel rushed or pressured, they offered nothing but support, and more importantly, room for us to work through conversion.

One thing that we began to notice was how supportive the whole Church has been, it’s hard to see when your being overwhelmed by the “Easterness” of everything. When it all finally started to become familiar, we noticed that indeed we were being welcomed.

On a very cold Sunday morning, we stood in the narthex while Father Fenn, and the whole congregation prayed us into the Orthodox church. It was a moving experience, and each Sunday now the whole Church prays for us as we move onto final confirmation.

As new catechumens we got to experience our first house blessings this weekend. I have to say right up front that this is what we have been longing for. It was a time of fellowship, warmth and a deep sense of family. Each home offered a light meal, and invited the church family to come and be part of the tradition.

There where candles, blessed water (getting tossed everywhere), and lots of singing.

We had some good discussions about history, theology, we made some great friends, drank wine, and something I’m still not sure was legal in some states. It was everything that I missed from the Protestant Churches, with Alcohol!!!

We walked away blessed, it removed any hesitation at being outsiders coming into a new world. Outside the structure of the Liturgy the parish family exudes incredible warmth and vitality.

I’ve been trying hard to not compare it to our experience in our local Catholic Parish, partly because I know there is in fact just as much warmth there. We just never got to experience it, we had fellowship to be sure, but it was always in the confines of the Parish. There is nothing wrong with that, however not since being part of a small SBC church, have we felt so much part of something more intimate.

We have also noticed some Catholic family’s starting to show up, we can spot them a mile away now, just like I could spot a first time protestant at Mass while Catholic. There is a glazed look that comes over their face, with a dawning realization of being overwhelmed by the smells and bells.I’m not sure why we are suddenly seeing more new Catholics showing up, maybe it’s that time of year. I have my own suspicions that I will write about later, I think it’s part of a movement towards the ancient, a hunt for authenticity and stability. And there are only so many choices when you head that direction…

More on that shortly…





More Random Thoughts

There was a terrible tragedy a week ago, evil came to visit an elementary school, and took the lives of innocents. But now a week out and instead of praying for the family and victims, we have begun a witch hunt. And of course everyones favorite fantasy is to make guns illegal, it’s happened before and it’s never worked. It never will, in fact just like an atomic bomb, you can’t un-invent a technology. So even if we make guns illegal, you can still make one at home with little trouble. Arming the teachers is not a bad idea, except most teachers fear guns already. Turning our schools into prisons, which they already do here, might help, but ultimately it didn’t help in Sandy Hook. I don’t know what the answer is, Theodicy is the theology of explaining evil in the face of a good and loving God, and sometimes I just don’t think you can. Evil showed it’s face again, and it will happen again, no matter how many rights we take away from our citizens. But letting reactionary idiots on capitol hill run the conversation is going to lead to another TSA farce, where every one suffers but no one is really safe.

Finally got my iPad mini, if I’m not a certifiable Apple fanboy, then I have no idea what one is. I love the form factor, it’s just right for all the things I do, and fits into my coat pocket. The new cover for it is a disappointment, but Michelle ordered a switcheasy which will fix that problem. Now I just need an iPhone 5 :)

The house sold two days into showing, we just signed the paperwork, now to see if the lender accepts. I think he will, it’s easy money and the attorney will make it hard for him to collect anything else, I just want all this over, and to get back on with our lives, we also sign the lease on a new property today.

The Pope is calling Gay Marriage the end of our civilization, I don’t know if I would go that far. I think the whole thing is a farce to begin with, it’s an outgrowth of a society that is focused on an unequal concept of equality. There are so many now who think that everything should be ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ and they are not interested in the consequences of their ideology. The Catholic view of sex, marriage and birth control forces them to be reactionary when dealing with these issues in the first place, I can’t tell you how much bad information I’ve heard from Catholics about these topics, especially birth control. And some of the arguments from some of the biggest names are so skewed and nonsensical that I wonder if they actually believe some of the junk they pedaling. Gay Marriage is not the end of the world, I don’t agree with it, I think it’s wrong. But I’m not going to stockpile my supplies and wait for the end of the world over it, I have the Mayans for that :)

Speaking of the Mayans, I’m glad that nonsense is over.

I’m hoping for a white Christmas this year, the first year we moved into this one (almost exactly seven years to the day) we got a white Christmas, this will be the last one with all the kids here. So I want it to be special, we will do Roast beef, open presents and watch old cheesy movies, and laugh a lot. It will be good, then we finish packing and start a new adventure.

Here’s hoping your Christmas is Merry and Bright, and take some time to reflect on the reason we celebrate each year, God, through Christ, reached out and gave us a savior, and freed us from the tyranny of sin.



The point of the journey is not to arrive, anything can happen…

That line, penned by Neil Peart from the song Prime Mover (on my favorite Rush album) has always fascinated me. I don’t share Neils atheism, or his agnostic tendencies (well not all of them), but his words speak to me at a very primal level, they always have. Over the years while life took it turns and twists, my faith and the words of a man who shares nothing of my faith have kept me on track.

Here is what Neil penned for Prime Mover from the album ‘Hold Your Fire':

Basic elemental instinct to survive
Stirs the higher passions
Thrill to be alive

Alternating currents in a tidewater surge
Rational resistance to an unwise urge

Anything can happen…

From the point of conception
To the moment of truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey is not to arrive

Anything can happen…

Basic temperamental filters on our eyes
Alter our perceptions
Lenses polarize

Alternating currents force a show of hands
Rational responses force a change of plans

Anything can happen…

From a point on the compass
To magnetic north
The point of the needle moving back and forth

From the point of entry
Until the candle is burned
The point of departure is not to return

Anything can happen…

I set the wheels in motion
Turn up all the machines
Activate the programs
And run behind the scene

I set the clouds in motion
Turn up light and sound
Activate the window
And watch the world go ’round

From the point of conception
To the moment of truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of a journey
Is not to arrive

Anything can happen…

Not everyones cup of tea I realize, but I find comfort in Neils ability to write about human nature and the forces that drive us, I find an almost brutal honesty in his words, we each have arrived at different conclusions. But that’s to be expected, one cannot read someone like David Hume and simply dismiss everything he states, or Descartes, both are on opposite side of the philosophical fence, and both are right, and wrong. That’s what makes us human, we are complicated, ethereal and corporal, a mixture of juxtapositions.
We have been on a long journey, Michelle and I, twenty seven years of marriage. There have been highs, lows, pain, suffering, and lots of joy. For a time I was hoping we would finally arrive, that our journey would finally come to a close and we could just settle down. But I missed the point, the journey is the thing, it keeps us going, we change because of it, not in spite of it. Next year it will just be the two of us, alone and together again, as it was when we first started this journey. Our children are all leaving home, it’s very bittersweet for us. There was a time when we dreamed of this day, and now that it’s finally coming to pass, neither of us are so sure it’s what we wanted after all.
Losing the house could turn out to be one of the best things to ever happen to us, we get to start the journey over, we are older, wiser, and have more resources at our disposal. I look around at all the work that is still left to do here, and I know once this is done, we will be heading in a new direction. I also realized this weekend while packing how much work this house still needed to get it fixed right, I was halfway there, but let the lender do the rest, it’s his bad decision not mine. I want to start building guitars again, I took a sabbatical for a large number of reasons, those are largely gone now. So once we settle, I’ll go back to building, and not just guitars this time. I’ve been collecting arcade part, and electronics to work on automation and gadgets, and we still want to raise clownfish.
Anything can happen…