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Posts from the ‘Faith’ Category


Back home again

Sunday morning exploded with the colors of late summer, the air crisp and cool whispered intentions of a day meant for parks, gazing at clouds, and just relaxing.

We rose early, had a quick spot of coffee, soaked in the morning sun and headed out, the day filled with promise. The countryside, and city streets flashed by our windows as we quietly made our way across town.

As we pulled into the parking lot, others who had made the same journey could be seen, smiles on their faces, greeting friends, all making their way to the heart of our morning.

The building reminded me of the schools of my youth, cool cement steps, brickwork laid by skilled hands, a large entrance with rows of warm wooden doors. Buildings like this are rare in the modern world of concrete and steel, but my heart sang at the shadows mixed with brick, mortar, cement and timelessness. At one point I was a six year old boy walking up the steps of my local school, the day rich with promise.

At the doors we were warmly greeted, we quietly made our way inside, once in the nave, sunlight beamed and danced on the water of the baptistry. We each dipped a finger, and crossed ourselves, as we were taught, a reminder of the water that brought us here.

The inner chapel greeted us with a warm glow, one that only wood can give, it called to us, come, deeper, deeper…

The room was filled with people, from the front to the rear, we found a little spot in the back, and turning to bow to the altar sat and waited. The silence of a room filled with people is deafening, a reverent hush was in the air.

As the priest ascended the Altar we stood as one body.

The mass had begun.

Each piece of the liturgy sang from our hearts, the words coming without effort. The liturgy of the word seemed to flow by like a fast moving river, sweeping us along, until finally we had reached our reason for being here, the liturgy of the Eucharist had begun. The words were familiar, they spoke of devotion, love, sacrifice, and mercy. The priest intoned the sacraments, the bells rang, and we knew the time had come, everything rested on our next decision and steps.

As I approached the Eucharist, I bowed and crossed myself in respect, and then I was there. “The Body Of Christ” was stated, and I replied “Amen”, taking the wafer and as I was taught, consuming, and then crossing myself. Two more steps, “The Blood Of Christ”, “Amen” and I drank. After almost a year, filled with pain, doubt, anger, and uncertainty, it all faded. I received a gift timeless, immemorial, my heart sang, and my soul was satisfied. I crossed myself and made my way back to the little pew.

And just like that, the Deacon made the call, the Mass had ended, it all seemed so quick, yet so reverent.

As we made our way our out, we realized that we had come home. That here we could heal, we could receive a precious gift, and give ourselves time to find ourselves again.

A warm summer morning greeted on the way out of the nave, and we knew that this day would be different.

This day we had come back home, and we could now move on with our lives, and the day full of possibilities embraced us…


Finding Diamonds in the Dirt


Diamond Miner


I found something today, buried in the ruins of my so called life, I found something that has identified a slow and steady change.

I’ve been a man without a mystery, it was only recently that I began to wear my little wooden cross around my neck, strangely it’s the one cross that I own that has not been blessed by a priest, so in some respects it’s ornamentation. But as of late it’s with me more than not, I wasn’t sure for a long time, but I got a startling clue this afternoon.

We had to move again, it wasn’t something we wanted to deal with, but circumstances forced our hand, and so we packed it all up, sold off a bunch of stuff we didn’t need. Today I’m working on my office, unpacking memories, and trying to give myself a place where I can be fully me.

In my stack of papers I found some cards, one was a sympathy card from my former team at work, expressing their compassion at the loss of the matriarch of my Mothers family, the year before I lost my hero when my Grandfather passed beyond his mortal remains. It’s a touching reminder of loss, and how we all share in the grief of living and dying.

But in that same stack was two cards, one from a little lutheran church in Corpus Christi, it is signed by a group of volunteers who knit prayer shawls, and give them out to those who desperately need hope, the shawl is prayed over constantly. It was given to me by my aunt during the time I was healing from my concussion, and with it came a second card signed and written by my aunt.

This little act of mercy touched the heart of a man who lost his faith, still recovering from the loss of someone close, and dealing with the brutal, maddening, unfairness of life. Inside the second card is this inscription:


We are praying for you. I hope you will heal fast.

God Bless You!

Auntie Dulce

I stopped my unpacking and sat down to reflect, the last few months have been emotionally draining. Michelle has given me room to breathe and mourn, and I needed it, I had a very emotional talk with Fr. Mark about what I was feeling. The parish has not treated us any different, which for an old Baptist is something that I really have a hard time coming to grips with.

When the implications of a group of women who I have never met, would take the time, and skill to create a prayer shawl, for someone they never met, settled on me. Well, I consider it a diamond in the dirt of my being fallibly human, it touched something deep inside, it’s going to hasten a change that I have seen coming for a while now.

Around my neck is a small wooden cross, it has no monetary value, it’s simple and plain. I wear it because I like it’s simplicity, and it doesn’t irritate my skin. It sat for a long time on my night stand, I wasn’t sure if I would ever wear it again, but in the last few weeks it has started to hang around my neck more and more.

It’s part of a change, a metamorphosis if you will, starting deep within where the hurt and loss once ruled supreme. Overshadowing all parts of my life, that endless darkness is now being replaced slowly and steadily by a new light. I even considered going to service tomorrow, which surprised me. I’m not ready, but the fact that I even thought about it, and could feel the warm embrace of standing in the grandeur of the Divine Liturgy in my mind, tells me that the change is picking up speed. I still need some time to process everything, as Michelle and I settle into our new home, it will only accelerate the change.

There are other questions that will have to be dealt with, but those will have to wait, I’m not going to force the change, I’ll let it happen naturally. But happen it will.

Divine Providence, or Random Occurrence?

Maybe, just maybe, that Shawl was meant for a different type of sickness, and only now is it’s true intent coming to light.

Only time can tell at this point…


The Really Hard Part – Part 2

I was driving home with a friend the other day, and we started talking about Church. He was raised Lutheran, was an acolyte, and went through the whole confirmation process. For years they attended a large Mega Church, but lately they started to grow tired of the endless war on morality, and now spend weekends at home, and watch Olsteen to get their uplifting message every week.

I have challenged him before about ‘Why’ they go to church, and pointed out that for the Ancient Faiths, church is about US worshiping God, and for most evangelical it’s about US getting something FROM God..

Big Difference..

That stuck with him, and now his question is why even go anymore? It’s a valid question and I’m glad they are working through it, I would love to warn them about Osteen, but eventually they will figure it out.

But what struck me, was that even in the safe and happy confines of a mega church, the moral wars are starting to take more and more victims and are turning them away from their faith. I see it in the dialog of our elected officials who are more and more becoming the vast right wing conspiracy every time they open their mouths. I’ve been shocked at just how much hate and vitriol is being poured forth in the name of Christianity and morality.

I’ve been highly critical of the Church’s reaction to homosexuality, we have reached a tipping point, where we are beginning to lose the argument and are playing the very role that our detractors are charging us with. It’s especially heinous, when elected officials step in, and let their ignorance and hatred show in how they declare laws. Who in their right mind, would support Arizona’s lawmakers, Brewer did the right thing, but I’m not sure for the right reasons.  On the other hand, a private business should have the right to refuse anyone service, we should not be legislating morality, which is essentially what is happening in our day and age. So those of use who think Civil Unions are fine, and don’t have a real problem with anyone who is LBGT, are left trying to pick up the pieces.

I’ve begun to question the whole take on morality and societal norms. Humans, by and large are drastically unique individually, but tend to be monochromatic when taken in large populations. The church, in it’s war on anything and everything it sees and sinful, has lost the touching grace of our Savior, and has become a scourge that is afflicting mankind. As much as I dislike Dawkin, we are becoming characters in his dissertations against religion, which is a sad statement to be sure.

Last week we finally met with our parish Priest and his wife, it was time, I held out as long as I could but I knew at some point I would have to discuss where I’m at. It was honest, brutal, tearful, and in the long run something that I think I needed. I could not describe my feelings of abandonment without breaking down, the brutality of life, the hopelessness of being human. Their response was gentle, and loving and finally his wife commented that maybe, instead of divine planning, it was simply something physical that took Weston’s life. That forced me to stop and re-consider, I had not put it into those terms, and if she’s right it has deeper impacts philosophically. I can see where a Sovereign God would set the wheels in motion, granting true and utter free will, with both it’s gift, and it’s terrible consequences. Only stepping in when prompted or necessary. Being finite, I cannot fathom the infinite, but it does put things in a different light.

What if free will is the ultimate, terrible prize? How far adrift would any of us let the gift go? that is an interesting question, I need to wrestle with, it certainly doesn’t lesson the loss of a dear friend passing, but it could put it into perspective. Of course there would have to be a mystery element, as I am only clay.

From dirt I am made, incomplete, corrupt and corruptible, in the likeness of an image that I don’t understand, or can’t comprehend, at least in this existence.

Sitting on the shelf above my bed, is a small wooden cross. I bought it years ago in a little Catholic book store, there’s no gold, no silver, no fine craftsmanship to denote it as special. And yet it held deep meaning for many years, and I would wear it over even crosses given to me in my confirmation and illumination. I saw it as a form of a very simple faith, unadorned, unassuming, and utterly devoid of worldly value.

It sits there because I no longer are sure what I am, who I am, or why I believe like I do. It’s a constant reminder that even simple faith can become complicated in the face of tragedy. It will continue to sit there until I either give it away, or once again let it hold the center of my faith.

Only time can answer that question…


The Really Hard Part – Part 1

Since the passing of my best friend, I’ve been at odds with my faith. Forget Theodicy, I’m not interested in playing that game, rather I’m stepping back and taking another look at everything that I’ve learned.

It’s hard not to be somewhat jaded by what I see, I am after all a creation of my past experiences, and no matter how hard I want to let them go, they are part of my fabric now.

I read a blog post from a young man who grew up in the Baptist Faith, and who’s family fell into the trap of us versus the world mentality. No movies, no television, only church music, you could only read the bible, everything out there led to hell. The family adopted a very plain lifestyle, and lived a sheltered life, in fear of everything being tainted. It finally led the young man to try suicide out of utter despair, which was then of course blamed on his lack of faith (which in my opinion is pretty close to one of the most evil things you can say or do, especially to young people who you have trapped in your stupid moralistic worldview). In fact he said something in the article that struck a nerve with me, “if you would just let God break your heart, you could get past all this”. I heard that line for years, and yet no one could really explain it to me in a way that made any kind of sense. After his suicide he gave up on his faith, and is now asking questions about the possible non-existence of God, and looking to finding the truth of the matter, no matter the cost. I not only felt for his position, but wanted to encourage him, not to go back to church, but to keep digging until he found what he was looking for, because at least he’s taking an honest look at the issue. And the answer, theistic or not, is something he wrestled with.

Michelle and I spent the entire holiday season at home, we did not enter the doors of a church once (and still haven’t). Not that I’m mad at anyone, or the Church, it’s not that at all. Rather, I don’t know if I believe anymore in Church, in ceremony, in prayer, in any of it. I’ve wanted to reach out more than once and discuss all this, but I’m not sure our priest is open to a brutally honest conversation about this, and in point of fact there are only two people I know who I can talk to about it.

I guess in the long run, I’m just not sure *I’m* ready to have that conversation yet.

The hurt runs so deep now, and the questions remain largely unanswered, that I feel unable to bring myself around to dealing with them. On top of that, Michelle and I are still going through changes, nothing from the last year has been fully settled so that adds to the unease.

None of this is to say I’m looking at atheism, that’s a road I have no interest in going down, I think it’s intellectually a bad proposition. In many ways the Atheist of today are really no different than the Theist, neither side has conclusive evidence, and all they do is argue all day.

For myself theism is the only viable answer, there are simply too many factors to ignore and declare that there is no God. However,  I’ve been on a long slide to being Agnostic, meaning that I’m not sure *anyone* has the right of it any longer, including the ancient faiths. While I reject the tenants of modern day evangelicalism and the protestant movement, I still think that some of their questions and concerns about the Ancient faiths have merit, and on that alone I can’t simply dismiss everything they say. On the other hand, while I think tradition is important, I’ve too often run into situations where tradition equals or in some cases overrules scripture.

But given my theistic leanings, the role of theodicy is almost inescapable. The world is hardly a fair place, in fact it’s rather brutal at the best of times. I read and article today about children being beheaded in the war between Muslims and Christians, one of my co-workers just found out that his wife has a very aggressive and fatal form of cancer, denying them any hope at a long marriage. Our own government who was supposed to protect our freedoms, is now run by crooks, con artists, and power hungry thieves. Their greatest gift to us this year is a completely botched health care system, that if not addressed soon will begin to take innocent lives, and even with form of evil on our doorsteps, they continue to push on as if nothing bad is happening. It would be easier to deal with if there was even a shred of honesty in our elected officials, but there’s not, and especially this president who doesn’t seem to understand what truth is.

I’ll be honest and tell you that if given the option, I would move my family to a remote island, arm up and let the rest of world rot away in their filth and hatred. Look at what we have done not only to the planet, but to each other. We look back on ancient times and consider them so barbaric, but we have people today who are beheading children because they hold a different religious belief. In my own lifetime there have been wars, genocide, atrocities that boggle the mind.

And now we have a new evil coming in play, the next generation is only concerned with the fairness of everything, damn the consequences, or the lessons of history, it has to be FAIR. Because why can’t someone working at McDonalds or Wal Mart make as much as someone who is getting paid more for a much more technical job?, ignoring the fact that in my own career I spent literally half my life learning my craft, and honing my skills, and my pay scale reflects those efforts. Certainly I had some opportunities, but I also worked menial jobs, I cleaned toilets, washed dishes, scrubbed floors. Nothing was given to me for free, I put in long hours and sacrificed time with my loved ones to build my career. So how is it fair if I get paid less for what I do? or if someone who has little or no skillset gets paid the same as I’m making, that’s not a sustainable model, and anyone with a brain knows that.

Why are they so driven to make things fair?, well partly because the previous generations let them down, we promised a world of modern answers, and then walked away. I’ve long held the opinion that the Church modern has made more atheists than any atheist group could hope to recruit, because on our stages, with all the lights and powerpoints, the struggle of faith cannot be tolerated. There is upcoming a debate between Bill Nigh the Science Guy, and Ken Ham the creationist wackoid, who wants to take the book of Genesis as literal science. Guess who’s going to win that little contest of stupidity? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not going to be anyone holding up a bible as their source text). Although I don’t really care for Nigh, and find that he’s as religious about science as any modern preacher, Ham is fundamentally arguing the wrong point before the debate even starts, he simply has no chance of winning.

I”m tired of it all, I’m sick of the church and the poison that it has been spreading through the world. There is some good, I’m not going to deny it, but for every good, there is just as much hate, evil and fear generated by good church going people. We’ve taken the Gospel and twisted it into an abusive form of subjugation for anyone who dares disagree with our tightly held views (especially anyone who is GAY!! (Gasp)). There’s a saying in my line of work, that we talk globally, but act locally. The same can be said of our religious institutions, we talk about love and obedience to God, but instead we honor conformity to the status quo.

That is partly the influence of man, but I can’t help but wonder on the other part if God has just taken his hands out of the mess, or if free will is really a terrible gift? It’s a question I no longer am sure I can answer…


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.


My Fading Faith

It’s been a tough year, Michelle and I had to move, lost our house, got sued on what was at best a sham. I fell, received a concussion and have not really been the same since (all while delivering cookies for charity). We Have spent the year dealing with lawyers and CPA’s who all claim to be Christians, but who should instead have their licenses revoked. We finally found a lawyer not spouting the Christian title, and in one eighth the time he’s done more than the last one could even accomplish in a year.

One of my very best friends goes into a coma, and two weeks later passes away, all while a family sits and witnesses the demise of someone they all loved so dearly. Like how Michael Spencer left us so quickly, it’s such a crime that these beautiful have to die in such agonizing ways. Life sucks…

I’ve struggled with so much emphasis in the Orthodox Church on traditions, and the ascetic nature of parish life. It’s not that I’m anti tradition, but I can’t shake Michael Pattons admonition about essential and non-essential things, and how that sometimes in our desire to help people, we do the exact opposite of our intention. While I love the Orthodox faith, I also struggle with it a great deal. Going from west to east, is not an easy journey.

The Catholic church finally gets a pope who gets it, and it causes an internal war because everyone wants the pope to endorse their faction, when I am %100 sure that Christ would tell them all they are wrong. John MacArthur is now getting rich telling charismatics that they aren’t really christian (a non-christian message if there ever was one, but hey, we elected him supreme ruler of the church… didn’t we?), and Mark Driscoll shows up at the conference and shows that the he’s not above lying to sell a few copies of his book as well. I don’t really care about either of these men (along with the other self elected popes in the protestant world), but the people who’s faith gets destroyed by these antics is heartbreaking.

Our economy is crashing in slow motion, and the idiots and sycophants who run Capital hill are not accountable for any disaster they unleash, that includes the moron living in the white house. I was will to give them all a little room, but they can’t even put up a website for crying out loud, and don’t talk about security. What a bunch of bumbling, idiotic fools, and I’m referring there to ALL parties on capital hill.

To be sure I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m tired of trite answers, I’m tired of feeling like I”m all alone in dealing with these struggles. I’m not sure any of it matters anymore, at times even Divine Liturgy feels like a pageant where we go through the motions, and nothing comes out the other side. You can forget prayer, what’s the point? If God’s in charge then I don’t understand his plans anymore, and my one little voice isn’t going to change anything, it certainly didn’t save my friend, who died of a brain tumor. One can’t help but do a little Theodicy when faced with the horrible death of a friend, it’s human nature, and in this case really can’t provide any substantive answers.

I’m tired of  the whole mess, I’m tired of the ‘Christian’ messages of victory, and well being. Go pour out your positive poison nonsense on someone else, and just shut up for once. The next person who gets their panties in a bunch because the words ‘Happy Holiday’ are an attack on Christmas is going to get a special reindeer treat from me, thrown at your swollen head. Stop treating people who don’t believe as you do, as inferior to them. Go fight your damn moral nonsense battles somewhere else, stop telling me how to live my life, stay out of my bedroom, and stop acting like you have all the answers.

I need a vacation, not from work, but from believers and all their nonsense. I need to step away from the church, stop going to service, and just think for a while. Is any of this even real anymore, while I certainly don’t trust the likes of people like Dawkins, I do have doubts, and I need to face them head on.

I need room to breathe again, to not have everyone asking something of me, to just stop, sit and figure out who I am in all this mess.

If you think I need encouragement, or more prayer, then go read the psalms, because David is slowly becoming my kind of guy… It’s not all roses out here…



Pope Francis… I like this man more and more every day

During an interview with the Pope this August by Antonio Spadaro, S.J., editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, Francis stated the following:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.”

Earlier he made this statement:

“How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbour. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organisational reforms are secondary­ – that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.”

This will be taken out of context by both liberal Catholics and conservative Catholics alike, but he’s saying something that I have said before. The Catholic church as a whole has been so focused on what happens in the privacy of a marriage, and other issues relating to sexuality, that it has become a parody of the very values that it is trying to defend. Even in the context of abortion, which is a truly terrible thing, there are situations where the moral right, is less than clear and sometimes can be counterintuitive.

He’s right, there needs to be balance, and not all the dogmatic teachings are equal, and some like the immaculate conception, and infallibility should really not even be dogmatic in the first place.

To be clear, the Pope is not softening the position of the church on contraception or abortion, but he is saying that the focus has been out of balance, and that I agree with. Especially contraception, which at times has taken on an almost medieval tone in how it’s discussed, with some catholics breathlessly grabbing onto any position that has the appearance of supporting their views on contraception.

I still don’t agree with some Catholic doctrines, but I like Francis enough that for a time I was wondering if being Catholic again was something I should consider!

And that my friends says volumes about how much I respect this man.

You can read the whole interview HERE, it’s worth a read.




The Theology Of Fly Fishing…

fishingI’m going to take a left turn, and head off in a completely different direction, to quote Monty Python: “And now for something completely different”… First I’m going to make a disclaimer for this article, I read and loathed Dante’s Inferno. It was nothing more than theological prose all wrapped up in sophistry, to my mind it was like reading a cheap dime store romance novel about heaven, hell and purgatory. So imagine my frustration at not being able to articulate without sounding like a new age fanatic, the spiritual and theistic connections I find while fly fishing.

Yep, Fly Fishing.

Before you jump to another page, let me see if I can articulate something I have discovered this summer, that has had an immense impact on my life and spirituality.

When I was a young man, I would spend as much time as I could fishing the streams and rivers of northern California, Big Pine, Lone Pine, it didn’t matter. In fact my greatest fishing story happened when I hunted a single giant rainbow in the stream above Lone Pine, eventually after weeks of trying to lure him out of his little shelf in the corner of the river, he took the bait. I reeled him in, and then did something I had never done before, I put him back out of respect for how hard he was to hunt. Normally he would have been dinner, but something changed that day, and I don’t think I’ve been the same since.

I’m now passing the mid century mark, and earlier this year, my wife and I took a fly casting class together. It was great fun, and it started a new journey that has now consumed my Saturdays. My first couple of times out on the water where less than successful, I even managed to hook myself in the arm, and learned a valuable lesson about removing the barbs from my hooks.

Mid-Summer we drove up to a remote spot above Boise, too a little town called crouch. I geared up, donning my waders, waist pack, and headed upstream with my fly rod. What happened next is hard to explain… It was fairly early in the morning, the sky was overcast, the water cool and inviting, all around me small rainbow trout where rising. I was alone, in the middle of creation, surrounded by breathtaking scenery. The only sound; water flowing over rocks, as it made it’s eternal journey downstream, and the occasional splash of trout rising to feed. I carefully chose my fly, and then waited, as fish started rising I would cast to that spot and wait… In one perfect moment, time slowed to a crawl, the worry’s that haunt my waking days faded, the water that flowed past me, was now flowing through me. I breathed in the solitude, and cares where washed away.

I hunted my quarry by hiding behind rocks, carefully moving downriver, those I caught, I admired their stunning beauty and then released them back into clear running stream. I, the man who thinks tree huggers are nuts, who thinks global warming is a sham. I, the eternal skeptic… Became one with my environment, the peace I felt, being part of something so beyond my faulty human perception, changed me. It was as if the creator was speaking to me, whispering through the pines and the babbling water. Healing my soul, and washing away my stains.

I scoffed when I read about programs that helped veterans recover, by teaching them to fly fish, more new age nonsense, I figured…

I’m not scoffing now.

To fly fish, you really have to become one with your surroundings, you listen to the water, watch it’s patterns, look for shadows, pools, riffles. What you cast out matters, trout are picky and cagey, so you must become part of their world. The details matter, every detail matters, and soon you find that you have lost all track of time. The water becomes part of you, and you become part of your surroundings.

I fly fish alone, not by choice, but simply that Michelle does not like crawling up the middle of a running river, and my closest friends just smirk when I mention fishing. I have learned to enjoy the solitude, at times I have wished for someone to share the experience, but mostly I just soak in God’s creation.

It hasn’t all been so ethereal, I’ve fallen more than once, discovered that some areas are deeper than they appear. Learned that the ‘water-proof’ waist pack, actually does a better job holding water in than it does keeping out. I spent a very frustrating Saturday morning a few weeks ago being ignored by trout that wanted nothing to do with ANYTHING I threw at them…

But even now as the cares of this world rush in to crush my spirit, just writing about being on the river, in God’s creation, soothes my worrisome soul. I still find peace when I pray, and during liturgy, but I also have found that a simple fishing trip can soothe angst within my heart. We live in a world of wonder, we keep looking for miracles, when they are all around us.

A warm summers breeze that sings through the trees, the babbling of the water as it makes it’s way downward. The solitude, and beauty of and untamed land. When I was young my Mother always called the Desert, God’s country. Even now I find great beauty in the open plains, and dry deserts of my youth. But I also find the same beauty in the streams and mountains of my home state Idaho.

It’s become an obsession, this fly fishing thing. And I’ve had to work hard to keep it from taking over my life, but the escape calls me even now. I hear the water calling my name, offering a cool respite in the heat of my daily existence…

If you don’t see me here, you’ll find me on the water…

And maybe someday, you can find me with a bamboo pole, casting out into the waters of heaven…



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…



Stop and say a prayer

The faithful in Egypt are facing extinction, by the always gentle and peace loving Muslims, churches are being burned, destroyed, and vandalized. A Catholic Priest was martyred for his faith, and two Antiochian Bishops have been in captivity, held as prisoners for months now.

The current administration has done nothing but bluster and puff up with strong words, and yet the violence and bloodshed continues. The media, who should be zeroed in on this tragedy, shouting about the injustice of it all from the rooftops, is instead chasing down the latest sensational headline, that has nothing to do with the tragedy we see happening before our eyes. There is some coverage, but the Royal baby, or Lady Gaga’s latest album seems just as important to them.

It breaks my heart, we live in such a fallen world. Human’s killing Human’s is as old as time, but it doesn’t make it right, or morally acceptable. That’s not to say that I would not defend the life of my family by taking another life, but I know that there will be heavy burden to pay. But to kill others because of your religious beliefs, makes me understand why so many are turning to Atheism…

I keep a little card on our altar, and every morning when I pray I go down the list to make sure I didn’t  miss anyone. It started with just the two bishops, but has grown now to include all of Egypt.

Please say a prayer that God will protect our brothers and sisters being persecuted in Egypt no matter what you believe (what can it hurt, right 😉 ), and that the country can finally find some peace.

That’s the most effective thing I can think of right now…