Skip to content

Archive for August, 2013


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…




I’m a Christian and I’m here to help…

Let’s start off by saying that I’m going to offend a lot of people with this post, I’m not going to hold back, I’m hanging it all out there on the line, so if your easily offended, go read something else.

I think the majority of people who claim to be ‘Christians’ are embeciles.

I mean it, and I’m tired of dealing with their stupidity.

I’m sick and tired of people using the term ‘Christian’ as if it gives them some type holy calling regarding everything they do in their lives. It’s like a get out jail free card, they pin it to their chest and wear it proudly in everything they do. Their business cards are embossed with little fish signs, or crosses.

They make me sick.

I will never again hire someone thinks that the term ‘Christian’ somehow adds weight to their credentials, if your a CPA, be a CPA. Do NOT be a ‘Christian’ CPA or one that follows other ‘Christians’ advice, be a damn CPA, do your job, take PRIDE in what you do, and stop hiding behind your faith. You can be a Christian and be a CPA, just shutup about it and make sure that you do a good job, don’t use your job to make some type of statement. Other than you know what the hell your doing, if I want to know what you believe, because you impress me as a saint, I’ll ask, thank you very much.

Tim Tebow has turned the moniker of being a ‘Christian’ into a marketable commodity, where the faithful blindly buy into their new form of idol worship. Nevermind that the guy was not a very good football player, and when he didn’t get signed, the faithful reacted as if they are an oppressed society and this was their one big chance to get someone who believes like they do out into the open to show that they are not different.

Except, that type of belief IS different.

Look around us today, we are surrounded by a million voices all claiming to both be Christian and to be on the case of ‘Sharing the good news’, can anyone rightly claim that we don’t know the message of John 3:16 at this point? Our cities are full of churches on every corner, signs that say ‘Jesus Saves’, outreach programs, preachers and charlotans on the T.V. we are saturated to the point of overload.

And yet it’s not enough, we have to continue to put it out in the face of everyone we meet. We aren’t content just living a quiet peaceful life, serving our neighbors, and worshipping quietly. Nope, that’s old fashioned, because just like those apostles, we are called to be out in people faces. Nevermind the apostles where called to start a church, and had a very different calling than any of us. St. Paul tells us to go and live a quiet life, but that’s just so old fashioned…

It’s worse if you mix celebrity with being a Christian, look at Pat Robertson, has any human alive put his foot more times into his mouth than good ole Pat?. There are so  many today that have fulfilled Luthers vision of a ploughboy with a bible becoming a Pope. We have built up so many common men into their own Papacy, we hang on their every word, even when they turn out to be frauds, cheats, and charlotans. We forgive them as quickly as we can and get on with the fandom. Gone are the days when godly men took their time before speaking, now they just belt out whatever they feel and declare it gospel.

There’s something to be said for how slowly the ancient churches react to secular events, the Orthodox church worked on a statement about same sex marriages for weeks before ever making any statement, and the Vatican just released their statement on it (with a former and a current Pope no less). Notice how they didn’t run out the next day and start blabbering on about how this is the end of the world, I didn’t see them flood the talk shows. They are taking their time, being thoughtful, and crafting an appropriate response. The one thing I LOVE about Billy Graham is that in his autobiography he talks about this very thing, when he realized his fame became part of his message. He became very careful about weighing in on issues, tarnishing his reputation, and speaking when there was no need.

As well we have all the nutcases who find every strange event a new miracle, right now a tree is weeping beetle dung in California (google it if you need too), and the ‘faithful’ are calling the drops, the ‘Tears Of God’. Sorry I just can’t make up anything that ludicrous, real life is far too good to change sometimes. I remember a similar event when I was growing up with a christmas light that cast the shape of the virgin Mary, it became a circus, with the faithful all flocking to a bulb that was cut in a candle shape (casting the shape everyone saw). People built flipping altar in front of the string of lights, and if anyone dared voice the obvious (you know, that it was a light bulb), the crowd would make sure to shout down their demonic unbelief. So how do you say your a reasonable believer, when we have so many faithful who put their faith in what they can see, and churches who validate their insanity.

No wonder atheism is on the rise, we never left the dark ages…

So here’s the thing, if you believe, then believe, live your faith quietly. And be prepared to answer questions when asked, but stop telling us about it, stop advertising because I’m not buying anymore. I don’t want a ‘Christian’ barbor to cut my hair, do my taxes, work on my car, or anything else. I want people who will focus on doing the best job possible, not evangalizing me, I’m not paying you to tell me about your faith. Just fix the damn car, I’ll treat you honestly and with respect, I expect the same from you.

Do that, and we will all get along just fine.



The Doors, The Doors…


Our journey, which started in 2008, has finally come to a close.The doors which we stood at for two years before have finally opened, the threshold has been crossed.

We carried the candles of our illumination, we bear the mark of our chrismation, and we consumed the mystery of our faith. Around our necks is the reminder of our faith and conversion.

I cannot find the words to express what we experienced today, it’s so ancient in it’s very nature, and so very Christ like that I’ve run out of words. As a now former Catholic, I can tell you there are similarities, it’s unavoidable. I think the biggest difference is simply the people, when we became Catholic we were warmly welcomed. But in Orthodoxy it wasn’t a warm greeting, it was like coming home to a family that has been waiting their entire lives for you to arrive. The contrast is hard to articulate without offending someone, which I in no way want  to do.

But as we waited in the Narthex, and the anticipation grew. We knew something was different, as if a cloud of witnesses was watching in anticipation, ready to share in a celestial event about to explode. As we stood during our chrismation, barefoot and dressed in white, holding our chrismation candles. Our very souls began to sing, and then after so many years of searching, of pain, despair, we finally partook of the holy mysteries, and at that moment we were made whole. The final chapter has been written, in his holy hand and not ours. Our lives will never be the same, our family has suddenly expanded, and the love that poured out on us, was simply overwhelming.

Again, words simply fail.

We have arrived, we are done. The doors opened, and we became part of that which we had searched so long for, the original church that Christ and the Apostles left behind. We have been adopted, we have changed. He has changed us, and our new family has changed us, and we can finally close this book.

One journey ends, another begins.

My prayer will never cease, before I die, I want to commune licitly with both Catholic and Orthodox.

I’m not interested in leaving this earth until that happens.

We are different, that cannot be denied, but we have much more in common that those things we disagree on.


DSC_4417 DSC_4419


Home at last…

It’s finally happening, after a long and dry period floating between the two ancient churches, the hour is upon us. We are preparing for our first Orthodox confession, and then Sunday August 11th, we will be chrismated into full communion with the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

To say we are excited is an understatement, when we became Catholic, it was like my wedding day waiting for the ceremony to start. In my little waiting room I had to ask myself: am I really doing this? Am I ready? Did I have cold feet, yep… Both when I got married, and when we joined the Catholic Church. Do I regret either decision, not in any way. I still love both, always will.

But becoming Orthodox is different, I’m more prepared, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve been living it out in my daily life. And this is the final piece that makes it all fully authentic, it’s emotionally overwhelming, and I’m pretty sure I’ll cry at some point.


I can’t wait, I want it to be Sunday, I want to savior the first taste of full communion, I want to be fully whole again. I’ve been on pause for two years, stalemated with no other option than to patiently wait. That’s hard for someone with no patience, I wanted to open this present two years ago…

And there’s a bonus, and it’s a big one…

We get to bless the faithful by making the Prosphora for Sunday, so not only do we get blessed beyond belief by being chrismated, but we get to bless those we love, by preparing the lamb used in communion. It was important to us that as we receive such a blessing, that are able to bless others at the same time.

Michelle is taking the name of Michael the Archangel, it fits her character perfectly. Just disagree with her, and you’ll see :)

My wish has been, and will always be that one day before I die, I can commune with my Catholic family, and commune with my Orthodox family, and not worry about the Schism, excommunication, or any of that other non-essential nonsense.

So based on that desire of my heart, I chose Pope Clement The First, who was the second or third Pope (depending on who you listen too), and is considered a Saint in both the Orthodox and the Catholic faiths. I’m sure if he where here today, he would share my desire for unity…

Please forgive me a sinner…