Generous Orthodoxy  




Monday, March 31, 2008

A heroic young Christian in the Amazon

Tarcisio Feitosa da Silva is one of the people I most admire in the field of social activism today. A native of the Amazon River region, he fights and organizes and challenges mighty corporate interests "to keep the forest standing." He knows that he might be shot and killed at any time, like Sister Dorothy Stang before him.

An article in The New York Times describes his Christian faith (rare for that newspaper!). He describes himself as devoted to living "a Christian life, by Christian principles, as a Christian citizen" and to the Church itself. "To me, my faith is something essential."

"I go to Mass every Sunday at 6:30 in the afternoon," he said to the reporter. "If someone wants to kill me, they know the route."

Click here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/world/americas/30feitosa.html?scp=1&sq=&st=nyt

And if you Google him you will find photos and a video.


Saturday, March 29, 2008

A small story of friendship in the big city

This New York Times article about two poor, humble, flawed people in the Bronx is enough to humble the rich, fashionable, and self-satisfied.

If anyone is looking for an illustration of courage in these times when the word "hero" is applied to everyone in any kind of uniform and the only kind of bravery regularly celebrated is the dramatic rescue or military action, read about Kenneth Jackson's journey to the funeral of his friend's mother:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/28/nyregion/28bigcity.html?scp=1&sq=&st=nyt


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Those atheists: not all non-Christians like them

Never underestimate The New York Review of Books, that most intellectually highbrow of journals, which continues to surprise with the occasional Christian-friendly piece. An essay-review by H. Allen Orr, a professor of biology, witheringly criticizes Richard Dawkins, author of one of the recent best-selling atheist books The God Delusion. Orr, a biology professor, is not religious, but he is quite acerbic about Dawkins’ failure to see that the most dreadful crimes of the 20th century were committed by atheistic regimes. Orr also notes that the values of the West that Dawkins values did not arise out of Confucian or Buddhist or Hindu culture but out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. (New York Review of Books, January 11, 2007)

It should be more widely noted: a significant number of non-Christian critics have written scathing reviews of books by atheists Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Dawkins. One of their chief complaints is that they are not scholarly, indeed are "middlebrow." We should take this as a great compliment to the intellectual dimensions of Christian faith.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Taking Christ out of Christianity

This article (sent by a friend) from the excellent Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, while shocking, is useful because it shows just how far the "liberal," "revisionist," "progressive" project leads when followed to its logical goal.

It may be just my imagination, but the reporter seems to me to have written it with an ever-so-slightly mocking tone, as though he/she recognizes how preposterous it is. Click here (while saying "The Lord is risen indeed!"):

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080322.wchurch22/EmailBNStory/National/home>


Not from The Times, but for all time

The Last Even As The First

This famous sermon is read as part of the Easter midnight service in the Eastern Orthodox liturgy. In recent years it has come to be similarly used in some Anglican churches, including Canterbury Cathedral. Based on our Lord’s parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16 and parallels), it has long been attributed to Chrysostom (c. 347-407), though now it is believed to be even older.

If anyone is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any one is a wise servant, let her rejoice and enter into the joy of her Lord. If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any has worked from the first hour, let her today receive his just reward. If any has come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any has arrived at the sixth hour, let her have no misgivings, because she shall in no wise be deprived. If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any has tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, not be alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has worked from the first hour. And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the act and praises the offering.

Let all then enter into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, keep the feast. You sober and you heedless, celebrate the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; let all feast sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. Let all enjoy the feast of faith: let all receive the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail her poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He who was held prisoner by it, has annihilated it. By descending into Hades, he made Hades captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried out: it was angered, for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered, for it was overthrown. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen. “O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown.

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the death. For Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

This famous sermon is read as part of the Easter midnight service in the Eastern Orthodox liturgy. In recent years it has come to be similarly used in some Anglican churches, including Canterbury Cathedral. Based on our Lord’s parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16 and parallels), it has long been attributed to Chrysostom (c. 347-407), though now it is believed to be perhaps even older.Easter sermon attributed to St. John Chrysostom)

If anyone is devout and loves God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any one is a wise servant, let her rejoice and enter into the joy of her Lord. If any has labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any has worked from the first hour, let her today receive his just reward. If any has come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any has arrived at the sixth hour, let her have no misgivings, because she shall in no wise be deprived. If any has delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any has tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, not be alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as to him who has worked from the first hour. And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the act and praises the offering.

Let all then enter into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, keep the feast. You sober and you heedless, celebrate the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; let all feast sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go away hungry. Let all enjoy the feast of faith: let all receive the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail her poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free. He who was held prisoner by it, has annihilated it. By descending into Hades, he made Hades captive. He angered it when it tasted of his flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, cried out: it was angered, for it was abolished. It was angered, for it was slain. It was angered, for it was overthrown. It was angered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen. “O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown.

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of the death. For Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Nicholas Kristof column on America's "original sin"

Nick Kristof of The New York Times is such an important columnist for us Christians because he is sympathetic to evangelicals. He has traveled widely in Africa and has been very impressed by the work of World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, etc. Every six months or so he writes something to that effect.

Today he is doing something else. He makes a couple of mistakes (Martin Marty is super, but he is not a "theologian"--and I was surprised to see the phrase "AIDS victims" rather than "people with AIDS") but he has made a really insightful point for all of us to ponder regarding our most serious, most persistent social problem. Here is a snippet from the column to illustrate what I mean:

Much of the time, blacks have a pretty good sense of what whites think, but whites are oblivious to common black perspectives. What’s happening, I think, is that the Obama campaign [and the Jeremiah Wright controversy in particular] has led many white Americans to listen in for the first time to some of the black conversation — and they are thunderstruck.

To read the whole column, click here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/opinion/20kristof.html?em&ex=1206158400&en=cd02deeeb508e822&ei=5087%0A


Monday, March 17, 2008

History being made in Tibet?

This eyewitness report from Lhasa can't be entirely trustworthy, but even if it is only 50% accurate it is an arresting and sobering illustration of media clampdown in a society of repression. Thomas Jefferson said he would rather have a newspaper without a government than a government without a newspaper. Our much-maligned and scorned "media" people need a bouquet now and then.

Here is the BBC link:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7299642.stm


Monday, March 10, 2008

Good (extra good) article about the torture issue

The most productive line of reasoning about the torture issue, it seems to me (after we have made the point that torture is inhumane) is to figure out effective ways of questioning terrorist suspects. An article in Sunday's New York Times is the best short treatment of this crucial matter that I have read in some time.

Here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/09/weekinreview/09shane.html?scp=1&sq=the+unstudied+art+&st=nyt


Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Archbishop of York and the British Empire

As a lifelong Anglophile and lover of the Church of England, I find this article from The Telegraph about the very impressive Archbishop of York to be moving, sad, and hopeful all at once.

Click here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/02/nbish102.xml

Notice the surprisingly positive things this African-born Archbishop has to say about the British Empire and British goods. And he is not ashamed to say that Christianity has much to offer in this national crisis of identity.