As of December, 2009, this blog is inactive at this location. All posts have been transferred to the new location here. You are very welcome to read and comment.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Green Bottle family vs Mr Wall

Mr Wall has been charged with knowingly and wilfully inflicting grievous bodily harm on all ten members of the Green Bottle family (pictured above, after major reconstructive surgery).

A number of incidents had been reported in the vicinity of Mr Wall's residence, but suspicion only really began to be aroused when neighbours heard local children singing a song about the incidents, and began to wonder what the actual chances were of all ten bottles accidentally falling off the wall.

In an official police statement, it was revealed that this is not the first time that Mr Wall has been investigated for such offences. Some years ago, there was a major incident in which the Armed Forces got involved, as the situation got quite out of hand. The victim of the earlier attack is the key prosecution witness, and any conviction rests on his testimony. In an interview with Sarisburium News, Mr Humpty Dumpty, who was clearly still very traumatised by his ordeal, could only bring himself to say, 'I hope justice is done here. Life has been very difficult for me over the past few years', before he fell to pieces.

The case for the defence is based on diminished responsibility, as the injuries incurred by the Green Bottle family were the responsibility of the person or persons who placed them on Mr Wall in the first place. The main thrust of the argument is that this was a silly place to put ten green bottles, and was an invasion of Mr Wall's personal space. 'I could just about cope with the two little dickie birds coming and going all day long', said Mr wall, in an exclusive interview, 'but when they started with those bottles, well, what could I do? It all got a bit much.' The defence is expected to argue that, after the first few bottles had fallen, the sensible and responsible thing to do would have been to move the rest of them to a safer environment. Instead, the party responsible for their wellbeing (whom, Sarisburium News understands, considers himself to be something of a poet), used the time to compose a song about the events to teach local children.

The sole defence witness is a character witness, Mr Wall's former work colleague, Mirror Mirror, who is known for her veracity. She is expected to testify to Mr Wall's upright and supportive nature.

Please stay tuned for reports on the progress of the case as events unfold.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

O happy fault? O necessary sin of Adam?

The Ascension of the Lord

Thou hast raised our human nature
on the clouds to God's right hand;
there we sit in heavenly places,
there with Thee in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels;
man with God is on the throne;
mighty Lord, in thine ascension
we by grace behold our own.

This is something that I wrote in response to a question about Christ as mediator:

Sin or no sin, the Incarnation (God becoming human) and some form of subsequent Ascension (God's taking humanity unto God) would have happened. The Incarnation was a complete act of love on God's part and not a quick-fix because we sinned.

What we did in the Fall was to alter the human nature that God was going to adopt. We introduced death into the equation, and so the humanity that God was to become one with now included this added dimension, which itself had to be overcome and conquered. Therefore, if God were to take our human nature upon himself in order to take it into the divine nature, then death was included in this, and so he shared in it in his Crucifixion and conquered it in his glorious Resurrection, and only then did he ascend, opening the way for us to follow.


My question is how does, (if at all it does), this fit in with that line from the Exultet, which reads, "O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam, which has won for us so great a redeemer"? If the redemption of man and creation through the Christ-event was part of God's plan for our deiication from the start (which, I believe, is a perfectly acceptable belief within orthodoxy and one with which I have much sympathy), then it was not necessitated by man's sin. If so, then does the line from the Exultet hold true? Do we use this in the text of the Vigil in the Western Rite of Orthodoxy?

I'm just a little confuddled and would be appreciative of any light that anybody might be able to shed on this. Many thanks.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

East Good: West Bad! - In defence of the Western Rite

Below is something I posted in response to the comments of a seemingly ignorant priest on another website. I don't think I would have been quite as bothered by what he said if it weren't for the fact that he proffered no reasoning whatsoever for his dismissal of the WRite, and it just seemed to be born out of fear of the unknown, or the idea often come across in some Orthodox circles that anything west of Byzantium is of the devil.

I doubt of the "western Orthodoxy" and its "western Rites" they are really a great fall for who practice it and this is demonstrated by its serial failures.

Most of those rites are not the true rites that existed before the Great Schism in West but a medley of all kinds of things that they didn't keep any tradition with respect to Western Church previous to the Great Schism.

I doubt of the orthodoxy of these "western orthodox"

With the greatest of respect due another person and a priest, Father, I must disagree with both your sentiment and the (I assume unintentional) misrepresentation of the rites.

You would have been correct if you had said that none of the rites currently in use within WRite Orthodoxy are identical to the rites which existed in the pre-Schism Orthodox West. That is because this was never the intention, but I cannot agree with your statement that they don't keep any tradition of the Western Church prior to the Great Schism.

The point of the WRite is to restore the Orthodox Faith to the peoples of the western world using a litugical form that is accessible to them and faithful to Western Orthodox tradition. It is not about liturgical archaeology - resurrecting rites that died from use 1000 years ago. All liturgy develops and evolves. This has been the case with the ERite as well. The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom as served today is not the same as it would have been 500, 1000 years ago, and that is a living tradition.

What we have in the West today is many different Christian groups who have their liturgical and spiritual roots in developments on the classical Western liturgical shape that has its origins in Orthodoxy. We cannot resurrect the old pre-Schim rites because they are dead rites. They are not part of a living tradition with their own living spirituality and traditions as practised by the faithful. However, many, many elements of these traditions live on. For example, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has its roots in the Sarum Rite, which is itself a development of the Liturgy of St John the Divine, which was the liturgy used in much of Britain before the Schism. Even this Liturgy of St John the Divine was done differently in various times and places. Different dioceses in England each had their own traditions, and practices, which were different from each other and from those on the continent. In Rome, the Tidentine Rite was used, which is another organic development of the pre-Schism Orthodox Liturgy. Yet all were Orthodox and all were united in the Faith of the Apostles.

What the WRite is doing today, is taking the surviving elements of those traditions - the ones which have remained practised as part of a living faith, and are perfectly consonant with the Orthodox Faith, and using them in the context of rites which are genuine developments of those which were used in the pre-Schism West.

How many Anglicans and Roman Catholics have I heard say that they would like to explore Orthodoxy further, if only it didn't seem so foreign to them, if only the esoteric liturgy were not so far removed from anything they know of Christianity?

I think the ERite is beautiful, but it does not speak to the British psyche in the same way that the WRite does, and if this is an unnecessary barrier to people coming home to the Faith, then there is no reason why we cannot use Orthodox Western Rites.

Rites like the Divine Liturgy of Sarum, the English Liturgy and the Divine Liturgy of St Gregory are all organic developments of the pre-Schism Liturgy of the West, which developed naturally over time, with their own traditions and piety. All we have done is to correct the very few doctrinal errors that had accrued over time.

(I must say that I have reservations about the Liturgy of St Tikhon, because it isn't an organic development but rather a piecemeal mix'n'match of rites with no traditions of its own. It is a valid Liturgy of the Church and so I would have no problem going to such a Liturgy but I wouldn't encourage its use. However, the others are true developments as the Liturgy grew in different places).

I'm back!

Hello everyone.

I haven't a clue what happened, but my blog has been out of action for a few days. It seems that we're working again, so let's hope for the best.

I just thought I'd let you all know that I haven't died.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Parish Website

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Life Together

The Jewitt Family

Please welcome the Jewitt family to the blogosphere and pray for them during their catechumenate.

I stumbled across them completely by accident and started invading their blog with my inane ramblings, so I thought the least I could do was ask my ever-appreciated readers to join me in prayer for them.

Christ in our midst!

Fourth All-Diaspora Council

O Master all-good, watch over Thy flock and all the children of the Russian Church Abroad, that we may bring about the structuring of our Church in a manner well-pleasing to Thee. Grant us the spirit of wisdom and understanding; instill in our hearts the spirit of the fear of God, the spirit of piety and zeal for the glory of Thy holy name. Guard us against all temptations, stumbling-blocks and divisions, that, bound together, one to another, by the bond of love for Thee, our Master, we may without hindrance perform the work of our ministry for the edification of the Holy Church as the one Body of Christ. We pray Thee, O greatly Merciful One: hearken and have mercy!

O good Shepherd, Who hast promised to gather Thy scattered sheep into a single flock, put down scandal and division within the Church; all who have strayed from Thy path do Thou lead to repentance and a knowledge of the Truth, and return them to Thy fold; and confirm us all in the Orthodox Faith and the doing of Thy commandments. We pray Thee: hearken and have mercy!

These are the two petitions which the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad have stipulated are to be included in the Augmented Litany of the Divine Liturgy until the All-Diaspora Conference to be convened this May.

This will only be the fourth such conference since the beginning of the late unpleasantness in 1917. The main topic of discussion will be the question of restoration of communion with the Patriarchate of Moscow. The Church Abroad only ever considered itself to be the free part of the Russian Orthodox Church and not an autocephalous jurisdiction in its own right. Its formation was an accident of history, but its continuation was made necessary by incidents in Russia and later, specifically within the Moscow Patriarchate. However, political situations have changed and the Church in Russia is free once more. There are still issues to be worked through, and the Church in Russia is still finding it difficult to regain the trust of many in the Church Abroad.

Please pray for the working of God's will in this situation and for the long-awaited unity of the Church of Christ.

Sacred Scripture

This is an I want post. I don't have enough I want moments in my life, so I'm allowing myself one now.

I want an Orthodox Bible. I want One that has all of the canonical books. I don't want to have to make do with one that confines parts of the Old Testament to one corner under the false and misleading title of "Apocrypha", which is properly reserved for those books that are actually apocryphal.

However, I need some advice.

I have heard of The Orthodox Study Bible, and believe that the New Testament and Psalms have been published together in one volume, with the Old Testament planned to become available at Pascha next year or thereabouts. Apparently, it has all manner of supplementary articles, explaining how various passages of Scripture have formed Orthodox theology and spirituality over the centuries.

I was all very excited about this until I read that the Old Testament has been produced by comparing the Old Testament of the New King James Version to the Septuagint, and correcting the former as necessary, where it differs from the text of the LXX.

I have no problem with the method. However, I do have a problem with the NKJV. The language is awful, and is such that I find myself unable to read it because I'm having to try too hard to read it. It simply removes some of the more archaic forms of English from the KJV, but doesn't actually go all the way in providing a contemporary language edition. The result is that is is neither traditional nor modern, but some bizarre hybrid of the two, which is sufficiently similar to the KJV to make one think that one knows the passage, but sufficiently different to grate when one comes across a difference. If I recall correctly, it is also riddled with modern-day Americanisms, which, while perfectly fine in their own context, do sound a bit odd when mixed with English archaisms as they are in the NKJV. I just find it a very poor rendering overall, and will only buy it if there's nothing better to be had.

The second Bible I'm considering has also been published in New Testament only so far, and may be viewed here. It is a translation produced by the Holy Apostles Convent in Colorado, and comes with commentaries from the Fathers and a whole host of icons. I'm aware of the Old Calendarist, "Genuine" Orthodox source, but this isn't a problem for me. The only issue I have is that I don't know how it was produced and what the language is like, as there are no samples on the site. Also, I've only heard via a third party that there are plans to produce an Old Testament. Does anybody know more about this?

Finally, there is the Holy Orthodox Bible (pictured above), which is the labour of love of Mr Peter Papoutsis. This looks good and, judging from the samples provided on the website, the language seems perfectly acceptable. My only concern with this is the same as my concern would be with any text translated by one person, and that is that pre-conceptions and inaccuracies go unchecked. I would be quite happy with this translation if it weren't for the fact that only the Pentateuch has been produced thus far, and there is no indication of a timescale for the rest of it.

What are people's thoughts and comments? I would certainly be pleased to hear of any experiences with these Bibles, and indeed, for any other suggestions.

The Orthodox Faith

Above is a link to a set of books I was given as a Baptism present. I think it is perhaps the best short summary of Orthodox belief and praxis that I have come across so far. Fr Thomas Hopko has done a sterling job, and this really does rate highly as catechisms go.

It is much more in-depth than the Q&A Catechism of St Philaret of Moscow, which tends to just answer questions with one-liners, without much of an explanation of the answer.

I have completed the 1st volume on doctrine, and I find it to be very detailed and yet concise. I especially appreciate the section on the Oecumenical Councils, in which he places each in the context of the questions that it sought to address, and then gives detail about what was pronounced and what this means in terms of our beliefs. It really is simple and straightforward without being patronising.

I have nearly finished the second volume on worship, and think that it is marvellous. The detail he gives about the liturgical year is extremely helpful, and brings home the treasure that we have in the Church year - the sanctification of time, where we are constantly called on and challenged to focus on the great mysteries of our Faith.

I can't wait to read the rest, and would recommend this, without reserve, to anybody who is seeking to learn more about the Orthodox Faith, or even who wants a reference book to answer some of the more basic questions.

A wonderful catechetical tool!

The Orthodox Church

In Part One he describes the history of the Eastern Church over the last two thousand years with particular reference to its problems in Twentieth-Century Russia: and in Part Two he explains the beliefs and worship of the Orthodox Church today. Finally, he considers the possibilities of reunion between east and west. - from the blurb on the back cover.

I have heard many a good thing about this book, and know from reading The Orthodox Way, that Bishop KALLISTOS is indeed a wonderfully thorough and accessible writer.

I had seen The Orthodox Church in the catalogue of The St John of Kronstadt Press, with a note that all of the copies that they sell are second-hand copies of the first edition, free from the heresies contained in the second. Now I had assumed that this was some reference to ecumenism, and this assumption was made all the firmer when I saw the blurb on the back. I had no problem with reading this and consider myself discerning enough to be able to take the bits I value and perhaps not take on board things that may be based on an acceptance of the so-called "branch theory".

I must say, that, while I am only 85 pages into Part one, which is purely historical, I am thoroughly enjoying the book so far. It is helping me to gain a better understanding of times and places surrounding key events in the spread of the Faith. While I am finding this helpful, I cannot help but feel that there is a certain inadequacy in the language used in some parts. The good bishop seems to be writing as a neutral historian rather than a bishop of the Church, and appears to be almost apologising for Orthodox beliefs rather than offering an apology for them (if you'll pardon the pun). It is quite subtle, and in parts I do agree that, historically, especially to do with the Schism between east and west, there was dishonesty and wrongdoing on both sides, but there do seem to be a number of instances where I perhaps feel that his concessions stem to aspects of belief as well.

I could, of course, just be reading too much into this, having had prejudices instilled by the SJKP catalogue. Has anybody else noticed this or am I completely off the wall?

Many thanks.

Unfriendly Orthodox

Has anybody else noticed that Orthodoxy tends to show its worst face online?

I have visited a number of Orthodox discussion boards, and with a few exceptions, there seems to be a culture of attack and sheer rudeness. It really is quite surprising. I have noticed this particularly among some of the more conservative Orthodox, especially the Euphrosynos Cafe and, to a lesser degree, at While both have some lovely people contributing, one has to wade through masses of discussions riddled with rudeness and rabid attacks in order to find them.

How is this good for a/ the souls of those involved and b/ wider impressions of Orthodoxy? I dread to imagine just how many people have seen this sort of behaviour and have been scared off Orthodoxy, or worse yet, had previously-held prejudices confirmed. I do take part in these discussions, if only to try to make people aware that we aren't all like that.

It really does upset me, especially as these are people with a wealth of knowledge about Orthodoxy and have so very much to share. I suppose it just goes to show that knowing much about Orthodoxy doesn't necessarily make one Orthodox.

I'm thankful for places like the Ely Forum, where not only is this sort of thing not tolerated, but where the regular contributors seem to have no desire to behave in such a manner in the first place.


Hello all.

Apolgies for my absence. I think I just needed a little breather from the blogosphere. There's been lots going on lately, but I'm back now. Also, I foolishly didn't take necessary action to save my pictures before my webspace was moved to a new server and so lost a few of them, including one or two from my blog. I'll try to get some decent ones up in good time.