Thursday, January 29, 2004

Saturday, January 24, 2004


Slater is finally writing. Nice piece, man--best of luck to you in Israel.

Friday, January 23, 2004


Daniel Silliman has a new post up on defining Postmodern Christianity. I posted a comment attempting my own definition. I submitted it there, and copy it below, by way of sticking my neck out and inviting any who will to take a whack at it.


I do not have a good understanding of postmodernism. Nor of the other philosophical systems you mention here.

What I would personally like to say about postmodernism, however, is this. It is the rebellion (initially instinctive) of a few deeply human souls against a philosophical slide into oblivion that began over a thousand years ago and which is now dancing in lockstep towards the brink of destruction with a post-Christian culture and society which began its own decomposition at least as long ago. The postmodernists deny that they are trapped in these systems--they deconstruct them, pick them to pieces, refuse to be taken in. They have a hatred of jargon, of the pat answer, even of philosophical systems. They fear to be trapped by words.

The postmodernist Christian, then, is the man overcome with yearning for the absolute encounter with God, wearied of all the dogmas and formulas and constraints which men have placed upon God for two thousand years, wishing only to encounter in person that simple, undefinable carpenter who WAS the Son of God, and willing to dive unhesitatingly into an oblivion free of definitions and guarantees and intellectual safeguards in the desperate hope that there, in the void devoid of reason, the Creator of reason will bear him up in His ineffable embrace.

But that's just what I WANT to see in postmodern Christianity. You tell me what's really there.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


Blog-out is out. It's banished. CommentThis allows unlimited text. It wins. Haloscan is now backup. See posts below for links to them. Silliman said the multiple comment things were confusing--I agree. Just use the first now, and if it's down, use the backup.

That's all folks.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004


The boys over at the Evangel Society are raising a ruckus about the Federal Marriage Amendment. They think it's a good idea. I'd like to agree. The argument that marriage should be constitutionally defined as between a man and a woman is appealing. Similarly, I approve of Derek Muller's statement that such a constitution should merely protect the word "marriage," defining it as excusively between a man and a woman, while allowing for individual states to establish civil unions with benefits identical to marriage for two partners of the same gender (whether or not they were sexually involved with one another). I have a certain fondness for the notion that even a Christian government ought not seek to enforce all the niceties of Christian morality, but rather foster an environment conducive to them, allowing for human freedom. So part of me likes the idea.

But I don't know. Something unsettles me about it, and specifically about the ES's campaign for it. My uneasiness is rooted, I suspect, in the fact that I tend to find the entire conservative philosophy of government at best incompletely constructed and articulated, at worst untenable. I have no problem with the idea of an explicitly Christian nation, but am uncertain whether the structure of American government is compatible with such an idea. Even if the structure itself is (or was originally), I do not think it remains so in practice. All the political, cultural and societal signs indicate clearly to me America is emphatically not a Christian nation. Post-Christian, maybe. But not Christian.

In addition, the suggestion that the Constitution should be given the function of a dictionary is already strange to me (however much I might sympathize with the goals which drive that proposal). In light of what I have said above, however, it seems far stranger that, with America as it is, its Constitution should adopt a definition which is so explicitly Christian.

After all, America was not even founded as an explicitly Christian nation. It could have been--but that was actively avoided. To found a nation as explicitly Christian with any degree of consistency requires an alliance with a specific expression of Christianity. Different branches articulate different arguments in different ways in defense of certain principles--the manner in which those arguments are framed would affect the manner in which those principles are applied. It would be possible to do this and still permit religious freedom--in effect to say, as I would (were I given a nation and the power to frame an Orthodox Christian government:

"This nation recognizes the Holy Orthodox Faith as the correct form of worship, the right and ideal manner of life for its citizens and the heavenly prototype which this government is created to emulate. Our citizens are free to live and worship as they will, so long as they do not violate the free life and worship of another, but the laws and practice of this government are built upon the principles of the Holy Orthodox Faith."

But such arguments were not made during the framing of the Constitution (to my knowledge)--rather, the Founders shunned any alliance with a particular expression of Christianity, or even with Christianity at large. Conversely, Christian politicians today make numerous explicit alliances with various expressions of Christianity, seeking to further the cause of those expressions politically, but fail abjectly to create any consistent political philosophy relating the Church and the State. They battle the liberals/atheists/homosexual activists etc. for the reins of power, but have no articulated philosophy for what they mean to do with them should they acquire them. Some of their rhetoric lends itself to grave concern on the part of the American people (which concern is manipulated and heightened by the rhetoric of their political opponents: e.g. The Republicans want to restore the old South, enslave blacks, prosecute homosexuals, etc). Moreover, their arguments are addressed directly to the evangelican Christian community--they're preaching to the choir. Indeed, it seems that Christian Evangelical Conservatism has reduced itself essentially to the function of merely getting out the vote. It is doing little to nothing to convince those outside, offers little to those who are not already in agreement.

And unfortunately, so far, the boys of the Evangel Society are doing little better than their predecessors of past decades and generations, repeating the same tired negative rhetoric and the same stale fearmongering. They and I both believe that a truly Christian nation would be a good place to live for all men--but they are not discussing what precisely that vision would look like, are not presenting that vision to the people. It is difficult to take them as seriously as they would like when they ignore such fundamentals.

This is not an attack, but a critique. I urge them to pay more heed to these matters, to describe what they seek, and why, and why Christians of all stripes and even men of no faith at all should embrace their vision for America. Otherwise they are merely cogs in someone else's machine.

I have added a new comments system, in addition to BlogOut. It is my hope that the Klink Family will get BlogOut working again soon, but it seems prudent to have a backup system up and running. Space with Haloscan is limited to 1000 characters, but at least it's something. Many thanks to both the Klinks and Haloscan--I appreciate the service.

So--ShoutOut if you can, otherwise just comment. Thanks much.

Addendum: Actually, we're going to make this a test. I'm going to put up three comment systems, and we'll see which one gets used the most, which one is working the most, etc. Winner takes all, second place gets to be backup, third place is banished. :) Drop by Comment This! for more info about them.

Ok...enough about comments. Thanks to all who provide said service, though.

Check this out--Daniel Silliman has an excellent post on his abandonment of political ideology. The sentiment he expresses is one with which I have a great degree of sympathy (though I don't go as far in the opposite direction as he)--do drop by his place and read what he has to say. It's a great little piece.

Friday, January 16, 2004


Also, I've added most of the sites I frequent on a regular/semi-regular basis. Working on building up the list, but it's alright for now. Check it out, to the left, over there, that way <--------.


In the hustle and bustle of travel surrounding my wedding, I managed to neglect mention of two important anniversaries (one much more important than the other, of course). For December 28, the day of the wedding, was also the 23rd birthday of my new wife Elisabeth. Many years to her, and may God bless our union!

It also happened to be the first anniversary of my blog. I include here a link to my first posts ever on that day, now the anniversary date of my marriage (minus one year). As you can see, that first day comprised the majority of my posts for a long while. Some things just don't change very much.

Other things do. In the past month four of my close family have started blogs--and they seem to be updating them with relative regularity as well. My brother Timothy was first, with both an everyday blog and a blog for his more serious thoughts. My brother Caleb followed only three weeks ago with his blog Tankers Anonymous, live from Baghdad. My father joined the fray last week with his Control Freak, intended to serve as a testing area for his thoughts and perhaps, as he hopes, serve as the foundation for a book. Finally, but most importantly, my lovely wife Elisabeth began her blog, Over Afternoon Tea, only a few days ago.

I include links to all these on the sidebar. Please drop by and say hello. They're all worth reading--even if I do say so myself.

Mr. Danckaert links to a fairly incredible site that should leave the hair-etics in the ESOB feeling very ashamed. ;) Thence one can find his way to this site, that of the National Beard Registry. Here one can not only read really funny stuff about beards, but even register one's own beard. I just did so. Mr. Danckaert is about to. Join the fun!!

Note--Yoga etc aside, the beard part of these guys' crusade is cool. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

SARTRE, GREEK AND CHRISTIANITY--some thoughts scribbled down during the first lecture of the Introduction to New Testament (not that the lecture was boring: on the contrary, it was excellent, but I didn't want to forget what I was thinking). If I misunderstand the language philosophers, Silliman or other critics, drop me a note. Also, please suggest whom and what I might read to get a better idea of what they say.

If language is relative, not absolute, then, if one is to understand a particular argument, text or tale, one must immerse one's self in those works, language and culture to which the first argument/work is relative.

It is this which lends importance to the Greek language, the patristic texts and the Orthodox Church--for this IS the language and these the texts and the culture which give context to the works (including, but not limited to Scripture) which promise life, love and ultimate fulfillment in human life.

Let my language philosopher friends correct me if I am wrong.

This intellectual path, however, is only one way. The other is the ascetic, prayer-filled life of the monastic--and this is the more direct path. Moreover, the intellectual path's only ultimate virtue is that it points to this reality of life possessed by the saintly ascetic. For those whose nature inclines towards academics, it may be an aid, a crutch and even a means by which that might ease the path of others into this life of life-creating death. But it is not essential.

For the language philosophers are right. Words alone mean nothing. Even in context, they can only point the way. The only absolute in human life is the ineffable, inarticulable, incomprehensible encounter with the Absolute God in the depths of one's heart. If we do not seek this, in our study, in our prayer and in our very way of life, our quest is vain and empty.

On a completely different note, I include a few pictures from my wedding. If you'd like to see more, drop by my picture web page.

Our koumbaros Seraphim exchanges the crowns on our heads as His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas looks on.

My new wife and I appear to be very happy. :)

The clergy, consisting of His Eminence, Father Demetri Tonias of the GOA, Father Dusan Koprivica of the OCA and the Metropolitan's Deacon Theodore, present us.

We few, we happy few, we seminarians...myself and my godfather/koumbaros/very good friend Seraphim Danckaert.

Myself, my new wife Elisabeth Cook and His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas

Elisabeth and I are married as my parents, brothers and sisters look on (apparently happily, thank God).

For those in the Orthodox blogosphere who have wished to see Seraphim and myself and our bearded-ness, do take particular note of the above. Imagine us in black dresses, and you have the picture perfectly.

Friday, January 09, 2004


We're at number eight. This is cool.

David Talcott has just posted wondering why one would want to Google Bomb Hillsdale College, specifically wondering why I would participate in such a thing. I can't speak for the others, but here are my various reasons for participating.

1) It seemed a harmless, humorous thing to do.

2) I was struck by the thought that such a few people might have the power to do such a thing and mess with the Search Engines, and wanted to see if it would work.

3) Expanding on the assertion that such a thing would be, as I said above, "humorous," I like the association of Hillsdale College with the employment section of the Michigan McDonald's website because of the oft-stated joke about what to do with a Hillsdale education.

For those not familiar with the joke, it involves someone with a business degree asking a classics major what he/she intends to do with that degree. The Classics major replies, "Oh, I dunno--mebbe flip burgers at McDonald's." Thereby said liberal education aficionado informs the business major that he's not interested in being rich and just likes classical languages.

This remains my favorite way to indicate that I still like liberal education and dismiss anyone asking what I intend to do with my highly impractical degree. Even though I am now married and fairly low on money, I don't in the least bit regret my choice of major or college. I'd rather flip burgers than not know Greek--and if it ever comes to that, I won't complain.

At least, not too much. ;)

Thursday, January 08, 2004


I forgot before. Sorry. I recommend everybody who comes to visit Hillsdale College. Then visit Metzger's or Prizio's to learn why.

This in celebration of my finally having purchased a leather bomber's jacket, as I've wanted to do since I was 4. Oh happy days!!

Received in a listing of wedding gifts transported back to my new bride's home by her parents and waiting shipment to us.

"from Stephen & Bethany - Slate round tray - Pope action figure - Pier I Gift receipt"

I would like to call attention to the middle item on that line and say that, if it is What I Think It Is, it is one of the coolest gifts I have ever received. Especially if my new bride's translation of the Latin scroll he's holding is correct.

Good Latin or not, does "Filii Hobenstaufenin osculamini asinum meum" mean what I think it does?

So cool!!

So it begins. We are married, we are one, it is done. Rather, as I said, it begins. May God bless our nascent household and strengthen our union as much as he has already blessed me in my bride. She is more than I have ever deserved.

I will post wedding pictures when I can. This post is primarily intended to prove Stack wrong (though not by much). She estimated 14 days until I returned from the evil alternative universe of No-Blogs-Ville.

The wedding was wonderful. I was wide-eyed and aware throughout it all, but in a sort of self-removed manner. In retrospect I wish very much that I had had just a few minutes to actually sit still in the hours before and contemplate what was about to happen. I kept expecting it to hit me that I was about to get married--it gradually sank in as the service progressed, but never in the bowl-you-over-and-knock-your-socks-off way I was somehow expecting.

Strangely, this has continued--both of us find it a little hard to believe that we're actually married. I find myself referring fairly frequently to the ring on my finger just to confirm that it wasn't a dream. When we returned from the honeymoon, we both found ourselves repeatedly surprised by the thought that, come bedtime, I wasn't going back to my room and she to hers, as before. It still surprises me to wake up next to her. And yet it's the most natural thing in the world.

We were blessed with a very good attendance at the wedding. Much of my family and most of hers attended, the majority of our friends from college, some from here at Holy Cross, etc. Many, of course, were absent--I'd like to pay special mention to a few whose presence I dearly missed. First, my brother Caleb, who spent Christmas on guard duty at the airport in Baghdad and returned to his active combat unit the day after the wedding. You were dearly missed, Caleb. Second, my grandfather Richard and his wife--detained due to the failing health of her father. Third, my housemates from the Beat--variously stuck house-sitting, moving, with family, etc--missed you guys. Drink something in my honour or something. And many others, family and friends who aren't on the top of my head because I'm about to be late to chapel and am preoccupied, but were missed anyway. :)

Notable attendees--His Eminence Nicholas, Metropolitan of Detroit. His last-minute notification that he was coming scared the socks off me and Seraphim (our hair is longer than he likes, and he likes to hit people with longer hair than he likes), but his presence was tremendous, his chanting beautiful, his homily marvelous, and his private advice much appreciated. Also, my old roommate Chad Helmick, with his lovely wife Kristen and newborn child Alyssa. They came a long way, and it was very very good to see them. So too with Konrad la Prade, another old roommate, and his girlfriend Joy Ulrickson. Kons drove from Maryland, Joy from northern Michigan. Thanks for the effort, y' was great to see you. And, of course, my dear family, who got on a train early on the morning of Christmas Day, travelled for two days, cooked, provided the hotel, and actually managed to be at my wedding in Detroit, MI, who-knows-how-many-miles from Flagstaff, Arizona. It was wonderful to see all of you--thanks so much.

And I have to run NOW. More later. Glory to God for all things.