Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I went to visit my parents to sign some legal paperwork as the executor of their estate. As I drove into the driveway I could see the back of their heads. They were sitting next to each other on the couch that sits in front of the living room window. Dad holds Mom's hand now. When he talks to me when she is out of the room, it is clear he fears losing her.

I need a hobby that is not computer, technology or construction based.  I have no clue what that could be.

I want a motorcycle, an old one and not a Harley... too "mid-life crisis-ish".  I did the red sports car 25 years ago already. 

With the IRS virtually paid off now, I made an appointment for a heart stress test next week. The doctor put me on blood pressure meds.  Is 170/90 bad? Then after that, a sleep study to find out why I fall asleep at the drop of a hat, during sermons, at stop lights and long stretches of freeway for the last 35 years, then an MRI on several of my joints so I can heal up by summer if I need surgeries.  I took out "top of the line" health insurance through my job this year because all my "pre-existing conditions" are now covered.  Blue Cross/Blue Shield is paying for an overhaul on my body this year.  Thank God none of this had to happen while I was self-employed with no health insurance.

I'm reading a novel for the first time in over ten years... and a book of any kind for the first time in over 3 years.

Lately, 8:30pm has been past my bedtime, even on weekends.

After a year an a half as a "guidance counselor" I am convinced that the education system is not about the children (though there are educators in the system who do genuinely care about the students, but it is the only system we have to work within).  In reality, American public education is a government business. It is about politics and power, educators keeping their jobs, and federal and state funding. The bottom line for schools is performance ratings tied to funding. It is about "no dollar left behind".

The current education system has little to do with the reality of over half of my students' lives and futures.  It is a poorly run circus and my job is to hold the one-sized flaming hoop at one predetermined height and figure out a way to coax them to jump, limp or crawl through it, if they can at all.  If they can't we have to find a way to move them out so their performance doesn't "ding" our school's ratings. Education needs not reforming, it needs to be blown up and re-built from the ground up.

I miss self-employment, but I like the people I work with at my job (both my co-workers and my students and parents) and they seem to like me.  But then so did my construction clients. All things being equal, I have no illusions that I'm making any more difference in people's lives by being an academic guidance counselor or a drywaller and painter.  What matters really is my relationship with any of them.  I got more face to face time with my drywall/paint clients and their families than I do with my students and parents at school.  I'm inclined to think drywall and painting has been a more fruitful spiritual career.  God knows. I am where I am. For now...

Lots of other stuff going on, but it boils down to I have the best kids and I'm proud of every one of them, I keep falling more and more in love with my wife and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

And, finally, I started going back to Church at our Mission a few weeks ago.  They decided to start doing Matins again for the Lenten season.  My wife (the choir director) asked if I would come back and help. The Mission has healed from its past. I went back on Zaccheus Sunday after almost a couple years away, and it was good.

Lent is a time for catechumens and penitents to find themselves defined by the mercy of God. This week, chanting the Canon of St. Andrew as a re-engagement and re-orientation to the life of the Church is as humbling an experience as I can imagine. 

It's past my bedtime. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

OMG "We're" Offended?

BREAKING NEWS FROM OCN (Orthodox Christian Network)

(This is a press release from OCN, sent to subscribers to their program... I don't know if any national news outlets have actually published this yet).  God, I hope not.....

National Christian Group Launches Video Response To Controversial Saturday Night Live Skit
• Asks NBC For Apology
Saturday Night Live went too far when it portrayed Jesus as a blood thirsty murderer. So says a national Christian group that's so upset by what they saw that they have asked NBC for an apology and have launched a video taking the network to task.

"The Orthodox Christian Network is outraged by the DJesus Uncrossed Skit that was aired recently on Saturday Night Live", said Father Christopher Metropulos, head of the Orthodox Christian Network ( "While we realize that Saturday Night Live is a comedy show, we strongly believe that NBC has seriously crossed the line with material that is grossly offensive to Christians."

According to Father Metropulos, "the skit was shockingly indecent and demonstrated a blatant disregard to the feelings of millions of Christians who would most obviously be sickened by the sacrilegious content of the material. This is especially difficult for Christians worldwide to witness as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter. Never have I seen such reckless irresponsibility from a national television network."

JCPenny and Sears have already pulled their ads from Saturday Night Live in reaction to the controversy.  (END OF PRESS RELEASE and inserted here is a link to the video they produced that I have not watched in response to a skit I have not watched and won't... neither of them, so I'm not posting it here. If you want to watch it, google it.)

Personally, I find OCN's response to NBC more offensive and un-Christian than anything NBC could possibly do to make fun of or parody Jesus Christ, the Church or anything I believe.  Fr. Christopher's concern for millions of Christians' "feelings" as they witnessed the mockery of Jesus Christ shows the depth of his lack of understanding of Christianity's core.  His lame self-promotion as a "spokesperson" and posturing of OCN as a voice of a "national Christian group" to garner publicity for OCN is a reckless, irresponsible and offensive representation of the Gospel and Christianity itself, far worse than anything NBC could produce.  In my mind they are both flip sides of the same coin: outrageousness for the sake of publicity to get ratings.  (Don't even get me started on why "Christians" are watching SNL, much less TV at all... that's another whole issue.)  So, back to the issue at hand:

SNL's skit was "especially difficult to watch... as we prepare for the Resurrection of our Lord and Easter"???...

Has Fr. Metropulos paid any attention to the services of Holy Week in all his years in the priesthood?  (I would broaden the landscape and say, ANY Christian who has read the Bible account of the machinations leading to the Cross and Resurrection). All of Holy Week (and Lent) is clear: The preparation for the Resurrection is mockery, injustice, ingratitude, blindness, betrayal, torture, greed, politics, defamation, slander, gossip, misinterpretation, insults, parody, lies and death.  The message of the Gospel is the offense of forgiveness of sinners, the slaying of the innocent, non-retaliation by God and men, the bearing of offense, the love of enemies and betrayers and cowards, the bearing of darkness, the kind word said to a moral failure while dying unjustly, the concern for the living while taking a last breath.  If Fr. Christopher really gets "the Gospel", his message should have been directed to Christians who are offended, not the offenders of Christians.

Has Fr. Christopher and those offended ever read the Gospels?  If not, here's some excerpts from one of them:

"Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you for My sake, rejoice and be glad..."  (MISSING: publicize your offense before believers and unbelievers).

"Do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also..."
(MISSING: Push back, boycott and launch a publicity campaign.)

"...but I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven...."   (MISSING: parade your outrage, the insult and the perceived injustice you suffered, or even your pious prayers for their salvation, before the public.)

By parading himself and whoever participated in the video he produced as representatives of "Christians" to send to NBC, Fr. Christopher has maligned, misrepresented and brought scandal upon the Gospel and the Orthodox Church.  He has promoted the Orthodox understanding of the Gospel as a force in the "marketplace" by aligning his outrage with corporate sponsors who have "pulled their advertising (dollars)".  He has presented his campaign in a way that non-believers will equate the Orthodox faith with a Taliban-like coercion of "don't f*ck with our religion or else". He has not addressed his true audience: Christians, and taught them what being a real Christian is all about. Instead he produces a video, issues a press release and tries to coerce the unbelieving offenders to accommodate the lack of faith and true spiritual depth of the people he is ministering to.  That'll convert 'em!  Or... neither of them.

In short, this one's for you Fr. Christopher.
It's an oldie, but it is relevant.

May God have mercy on you and us all.

Yeah, I admit I'm pissed, and it's not even the first week of Lent yet.

Rant over.