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Archive for June, 2013


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…



The Habit Of Prayer

My life prayer is something that I have always struggled with, I can remember reciting the Lords Prayer as a youngster, memorizing every word, but not really understanding the context. As an evangelical my prayer life was sporadic at best and nonexistent at worst.

Compounding the issue, was that no one could tell me ‘HOW’ to pray, in fact I still have books on the topic that have all kinds of information about prayer, but nothing on the how to portion. It always made me wonder how people did it so regularly?, what was their secret?, and why could they simply not share what they did differently? They talked a great deal about the topic, but never seemed to say here is how I do it…

And then I read Anthony Blooms book called ‘How To Pray’, and though it took a while to settle in, that little Orthodox book has had a massive impact on my life. I need to read through it again, because there’s more depth in there, but here is the walk-away and the part and has had a huge impact on my life.

In the book he suggests (I’m going to very loosely paraphrase here) that you don’t start out running, you have to learn how to crawl first, then learn to stand, then run, etc…

I took that personally to mean that I need to stop being concerned about the length or content of my prayer, and focus on building a ‘Habit’ of prayer. That was my starting point, but then I faced the issue on what to pray, that problem is easily solved with any number of prayer books. My current favorite is the Orthodox Handbook (it’s a little red one, that fits in your shirt pocket). I read the basic prayer every morning, and every evening before bed, even when I don’t feel like it. And if I miss a night or a morning, I make note, and force myself to do the next morning.

I had baggage that needed to be dealt with as well, in the both the Protestant and Catholic faith real prayer is done on your knees, in the Orthodox faith you pray standing up, while you face east. Fortunately we have little landing right off our bedroom where we built a little altar with our icons, and it faces east (or Eastish if you will, it’s pretty close to dead on). And against what my instinct told me, I build it at standing height, even though I badly wanted it for kneeling.

I made a commitment to begin bringing the Orthodox faith out of the parish and the sanctuary, and into my personal life. I started with just a quick morning and evening prayer, I made it short and sweet and didn’t worry about the content. I just kept at it, month after month, and slowly I started to branch out, sometimes I read the whole prayer, sometimes I do the shorter version.

I found some 3×5 cards and started keeping a list of things that I needed to pray about, because the list was growing, and between 8 and 5, my day job tries to erase my memory. While all this may seem very basic there is one key thing here…


No I’m not doing two hours a day, but I am stopping each morning and each evening and doing my prayers, in fact going downstairs without praying seems to be an odd thing now. Which is what Anthony Bloom was talking about, and what I wanted when I started out on this path.

So if you find your prayer life is sporadic, or needs some work. You can pick up Blooms book on Amazon, or you can just start small, as small as you are comfortable with. And then work at making it a habit, don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or a stretch of them. This isn’t a race, it’s a foundation, your doing it one brick at a time, so take the time to get it right.

And if your struggling to find a starting prayer, the Orthodox Trisagion is a good starting point:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to thee, our God, glory to thee.

O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us. (Thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy. (Thrice)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.





Anger and Sorrow…

My faith has been shaken, my heart is filled with shame. Anger and sorrow come and go as they please.

My world has come undone, and it’s been my doing. I alone caused all this to happen, the shame, while not entirely mine to bear, could have been prevented.

I have a taste of what David suffered, and there’s nothing good about it.

Those I love, and those I trusted, betrayed me, some honestly, some I’m still not sure.

But what I thought was, is now, no longer.

So I’m facing the mistakes of my past again, in all their agony.

But the betrayal, that’s the knife in my back, that part cut me to the core.

It hurts, it really aches deep in my soul, and I have no idea of what to do.




I’m not sure even where I stand right now, on anything, and yet I must continue on. I don’t have a choice, and I don’t know what else to do.

Others are counting on me, there is no escape, I can’t let them down, even though I feel let down and betrayed.

I need a miracle, except that if one happened, would I really benefit from it? or is this suffering the only way out of the valley?

I don’t know any longer.

My faith has been shaken.

God 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!