Valerie recieving absolution.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Valerie recieving absolution.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
What to do? What to do?
I suppose for many Protestants, an illiterate Christianity is not possible, since without the Bible there is no Christianity. Yet there were Christians long before there was a Bible, and there were Christians long before literacy became a common trait in the late 19th century. Do not mistake my purpose in posing these questions. I am not looking to ditch Scripture or other writings (anyone who has been in my study will know that not to be the case), but I wonder how much reading and learning Christianity on an intellectual level can interfere with us being Christians. One can memorize the Bible front-to-back, as I am told Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church has, and still remain beyond the pale of Christian belief. On the other hand I get the impression from some Orthodox I know that one can gauge their spiritual development in terms of how much Orthodox-related reading they have done.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Monday, November 27, 2006
But back to the larger question, Does it matter?
People are fond of huffily stating "If you don't see the difference between Reps and Dems, then you aren't looking close enough." But actions speak louder than words. Most Rs support military adventurism in support of "freedom" and "stopping WMDs", while Ds support military adventurism in support of "humanitarian intervention" and "stopping genocide". Rs want soulless corporate bureaucracy to govern our lives, Ds want soulless UN bureaucracy to govern our lives. Rs give you the bread and circuses of piddling tax cuts and professional sports, Ds give you the bread and circuses of "entitlements" and MTV.
Aside from the war in Iraq, the real hot-button issue that divides the two parties is abortions, and for all the screeching about Ds being the party of death, what exactly have the Rs done to limit abortion since gaining a majority? The silence is deafening (and people who brag on GWB's Supreme Court nominations distinctly underwhelm me).
My father was fond of muttering that this country needed another revolution, though with the state of the nation, we'd probably end with a government as stupid and corrupt as this one. It's a shame there is no New World to sail off to.
So far boat school has been everything I could want and more. There is something very refreshing about learning an actual trade, and my progress is measured in what I actually produce, rather than the ambiguous nature of most "intellectual" schooling. No amount of rhetorical shell-games will keep my instructor from telling me to re-make my dovetail joints because they do not fit together well. When I was a boy my father would often excuse little errors in home repair projects by saying "Well we're not building a piano." Learning boatbuilding, it has become clear that there are many cases where the work must rise to the standard of building a piano, though our instructors are also quick to point out places where "eyeballing it" will suffice, and in fact, be a wiser choice.
When school begins again tomorrow we will be finshing up our lofting projects (the drawing out of a boat in three views full-sized on a floor, and hopefully by next week we will be building our first boats, 12' flat-bottomed skiffs constructed by each of the three instruction groups.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the skills I am learning is the ability to accurately construct wooden structures with few, if any, square corners or right angles. Aside from the obvious application to boat-building, I'll have, if nothing else, first-class finsh carpentry skills. Aside from our practice joinery, we've made a dovetail jointed tool-box, a wood bodies smoothing plane, spar gauges, bevel gauges, bevel boards, a lathe project (mine was making a belaying pin to a pattern out of black locust), and a half-hull model of the boat we drew in drafting class. Aside from a miniumum of power tools, almost all the work has been with hand tools. Even the drafting was done with pencil and paper- much to my delight and manual drafting is something I really enjoy. Aside from the tradition focus of the school, the instructors have told us that they want us to be able to do our jobs with a minimum of tools, and what might be primitive conditions.
All in all the work is a refreshing change, being able to work with God-given materials in an act of subcreation is an agrarian's dream come true. Furthermore, such an obscure trade as wooden boatbuilding is so far outside the mainstream of the corporate-commercial world, as to be largely insulated. The impression I have gotten is that in this field things are still done as they were, and there is a pride in craftsmanship and respect for the craftsman. My only regret is that there is very little that is done in wooden boatbuilding that is affordable to the "workin' man". Most people who work in the trade would not be able to afford the boats they build. The amount of labor involved and the price of wood being what it is, I will have to resign myself to catering to wealthy clients.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Wiser heads and better polemicists than I have analyzed the speech by Pope Benedict to death, along with the depressingly predictable reaction from the Islamic world. Frankly I'm beginning to wonder what the deal is with Islam, or rather, our collective obsession with Islam. A group of people who collectively cannot deal with historical fact don't deserve to have their faith taken seriously. Mohammed was a homosexual drunkard, so there.
But in more importnat news, or more local news, which is the same as more important news, I've passed over the penultimate hurdle to beginning my schooling to become a wooden boatbuilder. I've gathered nearly all the tools needed, and God rest his soul, my father bequeathed me enough tools that I only had to buy half of what was on the list; along with most of the books, and the requisite Carhartt bibs (which I believe you are absolutely mandated to wear at wooden boat school from what I've seen). All that remains is to drive the Al-Can with my good friend Berne, to fetch back my Bronco which I abandoned in Fairbanks when the motor blew a couple weeks prior to my departure. Once home I'll be preparing my 13' "Home away from home" that my Slovak Hillbilly Brother James and his wife Susan have graciously offered to let me park on their property to give me a place to stay during the school week, eliminating the half hour ferry ride and associated costs that would form my commute to school otherwise.
Valerie and I continue to look for property upon which to begin our agrarian utopia, but so far nothing is in the offing. In a related note, our wedding plans continue to develop, though aside from providing a list of addresses for invitations and spearheading the pig roasting, my responsibilities have so far be deliniated as: Show up, dress nice, bring a ring.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The word sublime is under-used these days, and the old habit of granting it a capital "S" has sadly died away, but sublime is the best description for my first sailing experience. The feeling of being propelled by the wind, actually pulled by the wind in some cases was excellent in a way that even the most powerful motor-boat could not equal. Every motor boat I've been in, alays feels as though it is struggling against the water. Even when the wind was abeam and our progress was slow, the pace always seem natural. The ever-practical Valerie was pleased to hear from Mike that one could fish from a sail boat. In any case, a sailboat (preferrably wooden) is now high on my list of things to own. Once we move across the water, I even hope to make it a semi-regular form of transportation if possible.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
As if one needed a reason to esteem the departed servant of God Jaroslav Pelikan more highly, he was also a man who appreciated fine literature. From the preface of "Whose Bible Is It?":
One day she asked me rather casually, in what Patrick O'Brian in the fourth of his Aubrey/Maturin novels calls "a fluent though curious English devoid of articles"...
Monday, July 17, 2006
If we admit that Orthodoxy is not growing in
This is where the Amish provide a powerful example. Despite the criticism by those who at heart are probably profoundly uncomfortable with what the Amish stand for, the Amish are not “stuck in the past”. While it is most visible in the realm of technology, the Amish are engaged with the modern world, but the critical difference between them and us is that they meet the modern world on their terms. Anything that enters their society is prayerfully evaluated on whether or not it is compatible with their beliefs, and what the possible effects will be on their families and society. I would submit that us Orthodox in
Ultimately our Christianity, our Orthodoxy is not radical enough. I mean this not in the sense of the joyless Orthodox piety-fascists one meets here and there, but in the sense that, like the Amish, we need to start making Orthodoxy the foundation for how we live our lives, and how we interact with others and God’s creation. We need an Orthodox ecology (in the broadest sense of the term). If living in humility means watching a 20” TV (though the argument could be made that in truth an Orthodox Christian has no business watching TV at all) instead of a wide-screen plasma; or driving a ten-year old Subaru station wagon instead of a new Hummer H2 then what is stopping us? If it means becoming agrarians and living at peace with God’s creation and our neighbor, not participating, or participating as little as possible in the exploitive and soul-warping chaos of secular materialist society, then what is stopping us?
Thursday, July 13, 2006
By all accounts Orthodoxy in America is not growing at an appreciable rate. Using corporate business ideas of perpetual growth to judge our Church is a very poor idea, however, leaving aside a mania for abstract numbers, realizing that our Church is not growing should cause us to look at our praxis, both as individuals and communities. The fact my subconscious evangelism is ineffectual (because God forbid we Orthodox do any active evangelism- and for those who want to quote St. Seraphim and talk about aquiring the Spirit of peace- show me the thousands around you being saved. If you even had a tiny bit of the Spirit of peace, could you not at least show me a dozen people around you being saved?) should cause us all to sit down and ask ourselves, “Where is the Orthodoxy Christianity in my life outside of church?” By this I don’t mean do I have an icon on the dash of my car, a prayer rope on my wrist, and how many co-workers have I explained why I’m not eating meat or cheese to today, I’m talking about the more rudimentary and oft-forgotten basics of the Gospel message. All those things Christ told us would separate the sheep from the goats, all those outward manifestations of basic Christian virtue that should identify us as members of the Body of Christ long before they see our icons and our Byzantine chant CDs.
If the way we our living our Orthodox faith does not produce in us even the faintest germination of the seed of Christian virtue, then what is the point? Do we really think we are being saved by going through the motions every Sunday? Perhaps I am simply projecting my own inadequacies on the state of Orthodoxy at large, but I see it around me as well. Imagine, just imagine, someone who for whatever reason becoming interested enough in Orthodoxy to walk into their nearest Orthodox church on Sunday, and they are unfortunate enough to walk into a Greek or Serbian (or any other heavily “ethnic” congregation). Are they going to hear the Liturgy? Of course, but they won’t understand most of it. Are they going to see the beauty of Orthodox worship? Sure there will be the singing in an incomprehensible language, the beautiful icons, the incense, etc. But do you really think this person is going to be received by THE PEOPLE there in a welcoming, loving Christian manner? I’m as guilty as the next “ethnic”. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an “Anglo” at church, and never bothered greeting or speaking with them after the service, because I’d rather go speak Serbian with the usual bunch of guys near the bar. Of course by the time the priest is through consuming the whole Eucharist (because in the Serbian church only infants receive Holy Communion more than once or twice a year, myself included), these proto-inquirers have left in dismay. On an Orthodox e-mail list for converts, the usual answer to enquirers that receive this sort of treatment is “Keep going back, you’ll get through to them.” or, “Find another parish that is convert friendly.” This strikes me as basically saying either, “We may have the Truth, but it makes us a bunch of insular xenophobes” or “We may be the True Church, but you’re going to have to do some looking around before you find a church in the True Church that is a True Church.” Now of course mostly convert churches have a much better track record in accepting inquirers, but only up to a point. Nothing in more bizarre to me than the existence of entirely convert missions in the Serbian Orthodox Church. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to see new Orthodox communities form. But I cannot for the life of me comprehend why (aside from the fact that though the OCA is the Orthodox Church in America in name, it does not function as the American Orthodox Church) a group of people who are named Smith, Jones, and Hanson would decide to begin a mission in the Serbian Orthodox Church (or ROCOR or any more “ethnic” jurisdiction for that matter). I esteem Patriarch Pavle as a living Saint, but I can’t grasp the logic of a convert parish, somewhere in America submitting to him as chief hierarch, or a church administration that thinks it makes sense to create parishes of “Anglo” converts who have no connection to Serbia at all. One begins to suspect less-than-pure motives on both parts, Converts: “It has to be Traditional, gotta be Old Calendar, and, yeah definitely no Ecumenism.” Bishops: “More money in the coffers, more numbers of parishioners on the rolls.”
(to be continued)
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Where and how did we get sold the cheap junk that is our modern cookwear? The only downside to the cast iron pan is it requires some CARE (something my Slovak hillbilly brother is blogging about right now). It needs to be cleaned in fairly short order after use and then dried off to avoid rust. On the off chance it looses its seasoning, one needs to reseason it. So in exchange for a durable, functional piece of basic household equipment we can hand down to our grandchildren, we've gotten a pan that is easy to clean when we ignore the dishes for a few days.
It really speaks to a larger issue that has bothered me for a long time. Everything is made so poorly these days, as to almost beggar the imagination. The gas grill I brought a month ago is horribly flimsy (and this was not a bottom end grill either). Planned obsolescence is a pernicious doctrine, that only adds more to the bottom line of big companies because we are all too forgetful when our crap breaks and we go out and buy a new piece of crap.
I've heard the economic arguments for why nearly every product is so cheap and lousy these days, and they've never rung true.
One of the few areas where quality still reigns over cost-cutting is in the majority of firearms these days. While there ae "budget" gun manufacturers, most, like my personal favorite Ruger, make it part of their ethos to build quality into their cost-cutting measures.
In any case, I'm hoping to gradually convert my entire cookwear selection to cast iron in the hope that my grandkids will enjoy it someday to.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
This last Monday my girlfriend (watch this space for developments) and I, along with my Slovak hillbilly brother James and his gracious wife Susan. We were over on the Olympic Peninsula, specifically the area of Jefferson County between Quilcene and Port Townsend. For Valerie and I at least, this area is probably the best compromise between affordable rural land, and a reasonable proximity to civilization. While living further away from Pugetropolis would be fine by me form a philosophical standpoint, what would not be fine would be being so distant from our friends and more importantly being too long a drive from an Orthodox Church.
We looked at several properties, some with homes on them, some bare land (and some not-so-bare land). We've been looking together with the idea of hopefully being neighbors, or at least in the same neighborhood. Ultimately it would be nice to find a few more like-minded agrarian-leaning Orthodox families intersted in a similar arrangement. A couple of the 40 acre parcels we looked at could be neatly divided into four 10 acre lots, or even an mix of 5 and 10 acre lots (and while I am dreaming here, why not a communal- there's that word!- chapel in the center of the community where prayers could be sung together?).
In other news, I've been accepted to the Northwest School of Wooden Boats, AND my student loan went through, so come September I will be learning the ancient and honorable trade of boatwright!
Monday, June 12, 2006
The New York Times artical he references questions why so many communal arrangements fail. My own, decidedly amatuer, opinion is most of these arrangements are strictly along the lines of "lifestyles". The most successful "intentional community", the Amish (and those who live similarly, such as the Mennonites and Hutterited) are tied together by a strong religious bond. While some would argue that the neo-pagan eco-worship of many of the more left-leaning intentional communities constitute a religion, most expressions of paganism these dys have all the depth of a mud puddle (of course I'll not deny that much Christianity these days is similarly shallow, but the difference is there is a depth of tradition to be found in Christianity that is wholly absent from neo-paganism.). In any case, it would be interesting to see how an Orthodox intentional community would stack up.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Dear Mirko Spasojevic,Never mind my father has been dead four years, though I have been known to contact particularly obnoxious mail solicitors (like the people peddling pre-paid cremation deals) and tell them "He's dead." with a rather un-Christian satisfaction at their discomfort.
Recently, while doing some basic research, I noticed that you own property in Snohomish.News to me, unless my parents secretly hold some land out there. Apparently his "basic research" was not thorough enough to tell him we live in Snohomish County (but in the City of Edmonds), not the TOWN of Snohomish some twenty miles to the east.
I've learned over the years that many people don't ever really have the chance to take advantage of their land.Laying aside the bizarre use of quotations around the word property, as well as the inexplicable capitalization of that word and "cash outflow", the entire assumption behind this (and the other solicitations I've recieved) is that the owning of land is simply an economic matter. Sadly this seems to be the way most people think about their property. One generally buys the most expensive place they can afford, and then when the property value goes up it is not a case of if, but when they will sell, reap a profit and move on to the next bigger or better placed house. When your home is seen from the point of view of an economic investment, and not an investment in a "place" and the sense of place that comes with it.
It's either no time or no money.
In the meantime the "Property" is just a source of Cash Outflow every year ie.
Property Owners Association Fees
Possible Liability (if someone gets hurt on your land)
I am interested in buying your property... etc, etc, yadda, yadda...My girlfriend found the letter sitting on the kitchen table and was so incensed she actually called the people and told them to go pound sand (I've got me a good 'un). This lack of loyalty to a place echos on a slightly larger scale something Rod Dreher wrote about on his Crunchy Con blog. By not being form anywhere, our increasingly mobile and rootless society has replaced a locally-based loyalty and patriotism with a vague and amorphous loyalty to the flag or to "America". At one time a person considered themselves a citizen of their town, or at the most their state, but these days, except in legal matters, very few people seem to identify on a local level. When the US began bombing Serbia in 1999 my father headed there the day after the bombing began, deciding that if his adopted country was going to bomb his homeland, he would rather die on his home soil. Before he left he sat me and my brother down and told us, "Sons, this is your land, your were born and raised here. Fight and die for this land if you need to, but don't fight and die for some dummy politician." Looking back now, I can feel fairly safe in saying that when my father spoke about "this land" he was not referring to the US in general but the actual land we had been born and raised on and the forests, mountains, waterways, and communities that we called home.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
First off, I think a bit of the confusion about the new path James and I are tenatively turning towards is making the discussion difficult. Agrarianism is less a political statement or a "program" so much as a philosophy of life. As such I don't have a good answer for what should be done about deforestation in China, since despite the interconnectedness of osciety, that still remains a problem for the Chinese to solve (in much the same fashion as I would not want the Chinese trying to solve our problems here). Agrarianism teaches that all matters are best dealt with locally, by those who will have to live with the consequences.
The idea of a local economy in simple terms means that self-sufficiency should be the goal of every level of the economy. So each house-hold should strive to be as self sufficient as possible, each town should be as self-sufficient as possible, each region, state, nation, and so on. This self-sufficiency accomplishes several things. First off it keeps the profits from any business enterprise closer to their source of origen. It would go a long way to eliminate the "economic colonialism" that exemplifies most extractive businesses. After all, when was the last time someone saw a wealthy or prosperous mining or logging town? The second advantage is related to the first. When businesses are local in scale, they have an incentive to be good stewards. A locally owned logging operation would understand the need to manage the forests it cuts, to ensure its continued existence. Large scale industrial logging operations can come in and clear cut an area and move on, as they have no loyalty to a place, and once the forests in one area are logged those who live there are of little use or concern.
Of course the only practical objection to all of this (objections based on ideas that "you can't stop progress" and "this way of doing things is inevitable" being entirely metaphysical) is that such an economy would cause most consumer goods to drasticly increase in cost. To this I would point out, that in a way this would be a good thing, as it might cause us to spend our money more wisely. But more importantly, the increased costs would more fully reflect the true cost of an item. Modern business practices only focus on what is quantifiable here and now, there is little or no consideration for the hidden costs of industrial consumerism, both in those costs that cannot be measured in concrete numbers, as well as those costs that are being deferred to future generations. It is this cost that will be payed (with interest) by future generations that a local economy is most concerned with.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Pipe Creek Farm is not simply a few hundred acres of dirt, some clusters of old barns and outbuildings, power machines, a herd of cattle, a few hogs or a flock of sheep. Our farm is our home. It is our altar. To it each day we bring our faith, our love for one another as a family, our working hands, our prayers. In its soil and the care of its creatures, we bury each day a part of our lives in the form of labor. The yield of our daily dying, from which each night in part restores us, springs around us in the seasons of harvest, in the produce of animals, in incalculable content. A farmer is not everyone who farms. A farmer is the man who, in a ploughed field, stoops without thinking to let its soil run through his fingers, to try its tilth. A farmer is always half buried in his soil. The farmer who is not is not a farmer; he is a businessman who farms. But the farmer who is completes the arc between the soil and God and joins their mighty impulses. We believe that laborare est orare—to labor is to pray. In that sense, the farm is our witness. It is a witness against the world. By deliberately choosing this life of hardship and immense satisfaction, we say in effect: The modern world has nothing better than this to give us. Its vision of comfort without effort, pleasure without the pain of creation, life sterilized against even the thought of death, rationalized so that every intrusion of mystery is felt as a betrayal of the mind, life mechanized and standardized—that is not for us. We do not believe that it makes for happiness from day to day. We fear that it means catastrophe in the end.
Monday, May 22, 2006
My ultimate dream would be to live in a community of like-minded individuals (though the idea of an "intentional community" has baggage attached to it that makes me uneasy), an organic- in the broadest sense of the word- community that finds strength in shared values and shared lives, and that while not turning its back on modern society, at least is in a position to address modern society from a position of strength.