Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turkish Gov. wishes to choke off the Ecumenical Patriarch

28 May 2009, 12:52
Turkish Foreign Ministry considers it impossible to open Constantinople Patriarchate Representation in Kiev
Ankara, May 28, Interfax – The Constantinople Patriarch doesn’t have enough authority to open his representations outside of Turkey, in particular in Ukraine, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has stated. “Sources in the Foreign Ministry said such initiatives of Ukraine don’t have legal grounds… The Patriarchate can not take such a decision without permission of (official) Turkey, Turkish paper Aksam said quoting diplomatic circles. Thus, Foreign Policy Department commented on the results of the recent meeting between Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko and Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul when the Ukrainian head voiced the idea of opening representation of the Constantinople Patriarchate in his country.A possibility of opening church representation office and cultural center was discussed. It is not clear whether the parties managed to reach any agreement on the question. The paper further said that according the Peace Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923, Patriarch of Constantinople does not have “an ecumenical” status and is not a legal person. “As far as the status is concerned, there’s no difference between the Patriarch and imam of any mosque,” the article reads. As is known, the Turkish authorities do not recognize His Holiness Bartholomew as Ecumenical Patriarch (historical title inherited from the Byzantium times.) Turkey does not consider him the Patriarch of Constantinople either saying there is no city with such a name and using of this title can be interpreted as rejection of long-term political realities. Turkish media usually speak about the “Patriarch of Phanar” (a quarter in Istanbul once inhabited by Greeks where the Patriarchate is located) and stress that he is a religious leader of insignificant Greek minority in Turkey.

first ecumenical council

Today was the commemoration of the First Ecumenical Council where they affirmed the God-head of Jesus. "Light of light. True God of true God." Church had a great rhythm for the first half of the service and then seemed to languish a bit.

I ran this afternoon while the baby napped and had to stop short because Elias called. It was good to get the four miles in at 60-70% of heart rate a comfortable pace for longer distances too. Too bad I couldn't get more mileage in. It was an 8.59 mile pace.

I redesigned my workout wall so that it displays photos of me running and inspirational slogans. So now I can look out onto the track or the long road. It was amazing to run and see the muscles captured in the photo. That is the kind of results you can't fake. It is oil for the lamp. It is the very impact that comes from consistent training for the long haul. You can't cram for this type of test. Just as the development of faith happens as it mellows.

It is a secure belief founded in roots that run deep. They are not saplings. This type of training takes time. So to does our religious journey it takes time and effort not just intent. There is that reliance on one's inner strength which is drawn from our relationship to God to putting in
the time or in this case putting in the miles.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

the beach, the run and vespers

Today's run went by quickly enough and without anything noteworthy save the tiredness in the back of my arms. I wanted to run before vespers because it's the end of the month and I am mileage hungry. It was satisfying to see that I have raised my mileage well above my intended goal. The month of April was the lowest since August of last year and I was starting to feel like a fraud. It is great to see the miles going up. Some people would define them as junk miles because I just want to rack them up but it is not accurate. Doubling mileage is no small thing. Each run had primary goals: to be dedicated to a task, to reach inside, to gain strength, to follow through, to understand the task, to be in some small way a role model. The increase in mileage is just a secondary gain and benchmark perhaps even a braggin right (bogus I know). I felt a little tired as the kids and I spent several hours at the beach.
It was a great day. The baby loved the water and the sand which is a huge change for her. The kids watched and played with her and each other in a fairytale way. Just yesterday I was thinking about how it might be nice to live by the mountains for hiking as I had the occaision to meet an orthodox priest on line who trecks the Grand Canyon regularily. But then today with the kids in the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand and a pair of Pelicans flying overhead... suffice it to say it doesn't get much better then that.

Vespers where wonderful tonight the singing was truly glorious. We had a visiting deacon and his wife she had the sweetest soprano voice. Her voice was like a ribbon of silk flowing in the breeze. I enjoyed singing with her and rounding out the sound. I still am partial to the Greek/Middle Eastern chants with their warm sublime tones and scales but she definitely had a sound to be appreciated. I have come to think that the OCA chants (I use that term loosely) sound more like barbershop quarterts then sacred music. I am not refering to the words here. I do maintain though that musical tradition is sacred. After all style matters just look at iconography we as Orthodox refer to the Byzantine school or the Cretan school or the elongated Russian style or even the Macedonian school but not the Neoclassic which is definitively Western and humanistic.
I haven't heard from the yahoo group for women ultra runners yet and that is disappointing. We all need guides spiritual guides and life coaches. I am a reformed clinical social worker who has adopted Life Coaching as a vocation. It would be nice to have a thriving business I have been using this down time to hone in my skills and build my resume. I have the training and skill but a Life Coach should also have a resume of accomplishment. I got the black belt in karate and finished two marathons and have a happy healthy marriage and three great kids but still there is a resilience and fortitude a special something that I still want to learn before forging forward. Authenticity is imperative.
Motivational speaking is a real interest for me but I am not sure I am motivating as much as I have a very matter of fact drill sergeant type of get up and get going mentality. My life would have little direction without it. Understand this I didn't say it wouldn't have meaning I said direction. Then there are those times I just bury my head in the sand and refuse to come up but for air. There are those moments when I really don't understand what is being asked or have the foggiest idea of how to complete the request. Much to the chagrin of my husband I am not as smart as previously thought. In some ways I am a walking contradiction.

Friday, May 29, 2009

shin splints, speed drills and ultras oh my!

Well its official I have shin splints. I wasn't sure yesterday but I am now. I have increased my mileage and have trained at a harder intensity which would explain the electric shock running up my legs. I ran again in the afternoon which is preferable and it shows in my enthusiasm. For whatever reason when I run later in the day I feel as if I have to get the run in. It starts to feel like homework. When I run during the day its a break like a nap. I feel as if I have accomplished what I set out to do with regard to my running.
I am glad to see that my readership is growing. I don't feel so isolated. I don't mind running and training alone it works just fine but I don't like operating in a vacuum. I have looked into doing the utlramarathon training. To do those long runs utterly alone will be difficult to remain motivated for the long haul. If I am able to hook up even with virtual partners on line then I will be doable. Living in Florida makes it more difficult because of the intense heat and humidity. I have hooked up with ultra ladies and am waiting to be approved for their yahoo group. Here's their link in case you are interested.

There is an appropriate place for private runs and corporate runs just as in private devotion and corporate worship. Today I worked on relaxation and speed; the calm found in power and strength.

the fall of the city

Constantine the Emperor, Constantinople bravely defends,
And to God quietly prays, within himself:
O Most-high God Who, from the heavens is looking
And injustice, you do not allow to defeat justice
Christians, against You, greatly sinned
And Your laws, have trampled greatly
Without Your permission, this battle is not
Because of men's sins, this blood sheds.
That this city falls, is it Your will
That they do not surrender, encourage my people,
That the Cross do not trample and to Islam go
But to endure bondage, until a freedom new
Let them servants be, let them even be slaves
Upon them, let hatred and ridicule befall,
But, with hope and repentance, let them endure
And, with bitter sighing, for former sins,
Until their sins, they wash away and every sin, they repay,
And until to You, they completely return.
If they have You, they will be rich,
All plundered treasures, You will replace.
Constantinople on earth, be or not be -
Constantintople in heaven, You established,
Where, with Your servants, you gloriously reign.
Before this Constantinople, behold, even I stand.
O Blessed One, on our sinful soul, have mercy,
When it is built anew, let the old one be razed!

fad diets, starvation, purging why doesn't it work

Before I am labeled insensitive. After I had my third child I weighed a whopping 164 pounds at [5 feet 2 inches]. My first mile hurt and I was uncomfortable for months. In time, about 6 months I got more fit and slimmed down to 120 pounds. I now work not to lose more weight by eating more [not running less].
Everyone knows someone who is starting a diet, a 'new' diet, a diet that works. Well here's the short and skinny on dieting, purging, colonics, liquid meals and surgery etc. They DON"T work. They CAN'T work. What they do extremely effectively is exploit desperate people.
First. they are only outcome (weight loss) based. The feed the lie that tells weight loss will fix the problem. Fix ALL problems. WRONG way wrong direction. What ails the chronically obese or the those who have those last ten pounds to lose is not really the weight.
If we want to examine the most basic pitfall of these programs the most obvious, which seems to allude most, is that they are unsustainable. You can't go on the cookie diet or Atkins or south beach or get your stomach stapled to eat a quarter of a sandwich forever. The idea that once you've lost the unwanted pounds you can have portioned meals and be motivated to stay on task is denial about the reality. It is the magical thinking of a child. Why is it foolish thinking? Because you haven't made the necessary changes over time which modify your behavior and attitude about food. So after losing weight and trying moderate eating you slip and will continue to do so. The discipline has not been cultivated. Only the quick fix. I am always amazed with the chronic dieter who can't wait to reward themselves with cake or chocolate or whatever they have been denying themselves.
To shed unwanted pounds and improve fitness you have to do two things, just two: Move- some kind of increased movement for 3-4 days a week or 20-30 min. consistently. More then three days total. I'm talking like for the rest of your life. Healthier eating- low fat, less sugary drinks, and smaller human size portions. In time you will shed the unwanted pounds improve fitness and cardio health and it will become easier to make better choices. Actually in eight short weeks you can develop healthier habits and will see that visible change you are interested in. Just monitor your resting heart rate (you pulse when resting) at the onset of your new life and take it consistently you will see improve fitness and cardio health in 6-8 weeks. It is proof positive that is real.
Moderation is a funny thing because you can't have a small bowl of ice cream daily and think it's moderate. You can't feast on the weekends and not understand why not much is changing. You can't brag about your love of beer and not get why you progress is halted. You can't walk for two weeks and then take off a week. If what you want is to have your cake and eat it too then don't pretend to want to change. You can't have both you have to choose. If you decide to be overweight and unhealthy then so be it. Enjoy the choice but don't think that bowl of oatmeal or yo-yoing cholesterol number will make all the difference. WRONG.
You may realize that dropping twenty instead of forty pounds is sufficient and that's all good. In fact, often times unrealistic goals really serve to excuse failure. I choose a certain level of fitness and commitment to my movement and eating. I am not meticulous about training regimens numbers or meal plans. For me it would take over too much of my life and it's my choice. But in the same breath I can't complain about not qualifying for the Boston Marathon by 12.5 min. I didn't put in the effort when I would have needed to.
It is the ontological root which must be examined. In a sociological perspective we have been conditioned to want the quick fix and live in denial about the real role we all play in our eating and exercise or what I prefer to call moving habits. This condition spills over into every facet of our lives even to how we approach our relationship to God. Society tells us about the get rich, get born again, find salvation in an instant and here's your white out marker to right your wrongs.
Orthodoxy and Catholicism require someone to travel the long road making incremental steps which will slowly but effectively mold the person. They require action and not just statements or thoughts. See the pattern. If we want change we have to change in a way that is realistic and which requires constant commitment to be that changed person. It as to be about more then what we simply affirm. The thief on the right is always sued to explain the salvation in an instant but remember he was on the cross and only had moments before his own death so his affirmation was the only action he had left to offer. It is a long and difficult road which is why even Jesus Himself prayed for Peter.
So let's get honest and then get real.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

putting off the run undo pressure

Today I was not able to get to my run at the ususal time because of one reason or another. I had to put it off until 9pm but I was determined to get osmething done. I noticed that when I run earlier in the day I don't feel the constant pressure to get to the run. Today's arrangement was less then desireable. I really enjoy the runs during the baby's nap when I can easily get in five miles. Today was a quick 3.5 mile run. It was difficult and high intesity and maybe my legs need a break. I may be developing shin splits. I took my anti inflammatory today for the first time in a long time. The hassel to get to the run effects the quality of the run. Kids are almost finsihed with school and I can't wait to just be mom and not the enforcer.

acceptance is difficult road

Three years ago when I was told I had a brain tumor and went through diagnosis and surgery I thought I learned and understood the meaning of acceptance. I now think I may have juest learned to yeild to powerlessness. Maybe I learned surrender which is different then acceptance. First and foremost I want to thank God and the entire church body who prayed for me. I had brain surgery on 7/11/06 and made a full recovery. I have discussed this before so I will continue now.
What I do want to explore more deeply is the notion of acceptance. I tend to interpret my sometimes 'intense' reactions as strength; as an internal drive to press forward. More often then not they are overblown and just reactive a way to 'stop the bleeding' and minimize negative fallout. Although I have difficulty as I suspect many of you have with accepting shortcomings. Especially the shortcomings or what I perceive as shortcomings in those I love. I want so very much the best for my family and friends that I push for them to over achieve and leave little room for error. I don't tolerate failure and by that I mean less then perfection. You would think that with such expectations I myself would be perfect... not the case. So I find myself needing to take the beam out of my own eye and just focus on acceptance and love in spite of my fear that the people I love will not have every advantage afforded to them through their tremendous talent, beauty and faith. In need to realize that my council in such matters deepens the divide between me those I mean to help and in fact worsens the situation. If someone has wronged them then I am defiantly the person for the job but if they took the day off from personal responsibility I should back off and let it play out. I am surely middle aged and the range of what is possible is waning the bridge to adventurous dreaming is hidden from sight. Don't mistaken this for despondency I'm just realistic I have tremendous blessings which requires a gardener and cultivation. It's a good life.

running w/ dogs & pics of xena trail-dog extraordinaire

Today on runners world there was a blog about running with dogs. I run with xena warrior princess. those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know this. She is a great companion and protector. Running with her has been a metaphor for me and my walk with God. She follows me and listens to my voice commands and watches for hand signals. She confirms serving as a witness of sorts to our relationship together to her identification of my as her master/shepard. Likewise I hear the voice of my Master and Shepard and identify myself with Him in servitude to him. Just has her choke collar reminds her of the work she is to do my cross reminds me of the journey I am on (one of obedience and loyalty). As promised I have posted some photos of her. I think it's true that anyone who has met her will testify that she is great dog.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

and YES this is a running blog

Got milk (see photo)? OK for those of you who may be tuning in to hear something about a run well here it is. I have been loving my treadmill. the runs have continued to be quick-paced and exciting. There is a calm excitement which happens in personal pace in private time. I under estimated the benefit of movement and going no place but everywhere. there is a modification that happens subtly with each run on muscular levels and in spiritual dimensions. There is a space that is created in the repetition and monotony. There is an internal drive which pushes and motivates removing external connections and all secondary gains. All the momentum is drawn from within and it is empowering. It is not a theoretical change or philosophical shift it is material in several ways and is manifest in posture, pulse and perspective. I actually need to decompress from the workout as my mindset following is not geared for social niceties. I know as the workouts pass I will better be able to convey this phenomena. It is a internal fortitude that extends beyond the run and the practice into the practical application of dealing with struggle and triumph. It truly becomes about the journey and not the destination.

the evangical movement

This comment was written by me in another blog "I find at least in the south that people are always belching the Bible at others. We should not hide our faith (light) under the table by no means but we are not all called to evangelize. Even in the time of Paul certain people were sent out to preach lest we teach and preach another gospel in knowledge or in ignorance".
Here in the United States our airwaves are clogged up with 'evangelists' claiming to save the world. There is so much to be examined here. Let's preface this dialogue by stating upfront that titles like 'evangelist' and 'theologian' are traditionally and historically reserved for a select few. We assign such positions so freely that we have secularized and westernised the faith to unthinkable extremes.
First, even if I give these preachers/ministries the benefit of the doubt that they are all 'believers' and sincere; what they profess is heretical and misleading at best. We require those who have prepared themselves through prayer, fasting, study and paternal blessing (not to be confused necessarily with ordination) to preach the Good News.
Bringing someone to the faith is a cumbersome task and a great responsibility. It requires a good and sound captain to navigate the storm and rocks which will swell up in an attempt to disrupt the journey. Since the fall and expulsion the enemy has been given room to tempt us at will. Make no mistake he wishes to make every effort to lead us astray to eternal damnation. The spiritual warfare is a reality more real then any aspect of this concrete existence. It is the essence of our being. How we wage this war and to whom we trust ourselves in this fight have eternal ramifications.
I myself am always putting myself out there telling people about the church that compiled the Bible. The church of ancient rites and traditions while providing some education on history. My primary role is to pray, to behave with temperance and love to adore my Savior and Worship my God. With the help of the Holy Spirit the Comforter I pray that I have "a Christian ending to my life and can stand blameless before the Great Judgement Seat of Christ". I can accomplish none of this of myself only through His sacrifice and Church. My role is to love and diligently seek to commit acts of mercy and love.
Many times when heading home I pass an intersection which almost always has beggars looking for spare change. I almost always give provided I have cash on me. I consider them to be there for me and many others like me who are in a position to offer relief. They selflessly live the life of poverty to provide the opportunity for others, no matter how brief to offer some help. That may be their service to the church. My service may simply be not to mess it up.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

converts and the tail wagging the dog?

Today was a very sound run. I was grounded, focused and my strength had returned to me from taking two days off. I realized as I pushed the pace that my legs nor any of my extremities tired. I realized that my weakness lie not in my core necessarily but in my breathing. If your breathing gets away from you it's finished. Likewise in my spiritual walk it is not my determination or vigor which will cave but my control.
On another matter I was reading another blog and felt inspired to discuss here the issue of mastery. In order to master any task it requires patience, study and a sound teacher. A guide to assist in the process of gaining mastery of a sport, art form, profession, and control over the very being of one's person body, emotions, reason and spirit. The self awareness and the proximity that one has to others and to surroundings all require a teacher to teach and model for the pupil.
Only in the case of religion and in one's pursuit of a relationship with the divine is man so arrogant as to think that it can be achieved without formal intervention or an experienced guide. In this area pride prevents the necessary means by which a person can accept the insights and good measure offered by another.
Likewise then it rings true that the convert who frowns upon the cradle orthodox who don't appear to keep the letter of the law is so bitter to the taste. The student attempts to correct and reprimand the master. How then is it that so many converts overwhelm the clergy in the OCA for example? How is it that they presume to dictate that which they themselves have failed to attain any real measure of mastery themselves? Faith and the orthopraxi requires that we marinate in the faith for a while. The sinner doesn't become a saint in an instant. Likewise their leadership may have fallen prey to this crafty trap of the enemy by their barrage of reprimands of the church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. I refer my readers to St. Neilos the Ascetic for a concise and clearly stated understanding of this dilemma .
It is not that I am anti conversion quite the contrary I believe it is the only hope of the church at large and for the individual. I merely believe that it creates scandal when hoards of people gang up on those who are the gatekeepers whose only true intention is to unseat them for their own interests. How is it that those who have yet to fully purified themselves are so quick to make rash judgements about those who have dedicated their lifetimes' to the church under political persecution and social pressure?
My sin is before me and sufficient for my condemnation and without the Lord I can do no good of my own accord. It would be more simple if I did not speak about such matters as I would not make myself a target for the mean spirited. I also acknowledge openly that I do not fully understand all which i mean to address. And yet to sequester myself would not be the correct position to take. Comfort and ease cannot be the mitigating factor for silence. I can not seek the path of least resistance and recede into the silence simply because it is easier.

readers and worldviews

There will be plenty to write about in the next few days. But first I would like to thank my readers who hail from all over the globe. Here are some of the most interesting locations. Grays, United Kingdom, Montreal/Quebec Canada; Surrey, British Columbia; Toronto/Ontario, Canada; Gteborg, Sweden; Loja, Ecuador; Linz Austria; Montevideo Uruguay; and as far as Singapore. The list of United States visitor locations is extensive adn covers the four corners. I appreciate everyone who visits. I am interested in what keeps everyone of you returning to my humble blog drop me a line and let me know.
My thoughts on the matter is how this differs from other running blogs or geo-religious blogs. It is unique as it doesn’t get bogged down with training minutia and tends to explore moral and theological demands and how they can translate into real living. It speaks more I suppose about how running fits into my worldview as I don’t check my beliefs at the door. I don’t think living a splintered/fractured existence is authentic on any level.
There needs to be continuity within our roles both private and public. To compartmentalize one’s beliefs and understanding at home and separate the effects somehow from work; or Sunday worship from daily life, is trickery and a false teaching. What I believe actually effects how I conduct myself and how I determine under the leadership of my faith what is correct and true and what is a diversion and distortion. The extent to which I accomplish this endeavor will either be to my success or undoing. I’m just saying how it is. I think that my returning visitors might appreciate this fact.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

training is a spiritual gift let's relish the benefits

Last evening's run turned out to be focused, relaxed and strong. It was as if when typing I think and my fingers do the walking. I was thinking about upcoming events, past events, that quote I blogged yesterday and my daughter's recent photography project where she took some photos of me training (which I have been posting here). The photos look like some 80's throw back to running books (kind of funny) but there were surprises too. I noticed in several of the photos the muscles in my legs that have developed through the years. I realized that my shoulders and arms also had definition. This surprised me because well I'm 41 and never looked like that. I am not one to stick meticulously to a training schedule (a flarlek is something you do alone right?) but the benefits of training have taken hold. I have always used training schedules and books as guides but they don't lord ever me as masters.

I was very encouraged to see that Teressa who is new to my blog as I am to hers commented several times. It is encouraging and helps to direct my attention to what my readers need. Where two or more are gathered there He is among ... This phenomena is very real in all areas of our lives. People uniting with a common understanding. We gain strength from each other and encouragement. I get more from my readers no doubt then they can learn here. It is a give and take. I choose to give here some understanding of interior prayer and the Orthodox Church to a broader audience. I hope to use running as a parallel example for the path to salvation as Paul Equal to the Apostles did so eloquently and substantially. For me to exclude religious references or running experiences would be disingenuous on both accounts. Each nourishes the other. If running was solely about getting ripped and losing weight then it would be time wasted. It is about exploring the possibilities of what man is capable of by employing Biblical Principles. Running has provided me with a concrete venue to practice such virtues as patience and obedience while fighting off slothfulness and idle talk.

A while back I was blogging a lot about the jurisdictional issues in the various churches with several people from another site. I stopped writing and conversing with them as i realized they were not interested in the truth only in continuing their combative arguments premised solely on self referential claims. Sometimes you have to know when debates are not beneficial but are ploys by the enemy to suck out the energy and effort of a person redirecting their focus to trivialities and individuals who make pests of themselves. I stand firm in my convictions and will not back down from a confrontation on substantive matter but I will not entertain conversations with underhanded ill informed people. Remember that before the expulsion there was the fall and before the fall there was dialogue. The serpent engaged Eve in a dialogue.

I will be hoping to blog more as each run happens so that I can more succinctly share with you my experience and thoughts for your edification and for mine. Go inward into the heart of your soul and you will find joy and be at peace. The strength we learn from moving when we'd rather stop, or eating more of the right stuff and less of the 'bad' or the time we spend making room for training are all components of love. Just was we love the Lord we find the time to be with Him and when not in prayer with him, we think about making that time and conducting ourselves in a manner befitting our adoration. "Those who have ears to hear let him hear".

Saturday, May 23, 2009

time for one thought: let's make it a good one

I don't have the time to blog about my run today just now so that will wait until tomorrow. But i do have food for thought:

"He who receives no help when at war should feel no confidence when at peace."--Desert Father of Egypt and Palestine during the fourth or fifth century.

treadmill pitfall

I have found one drawback to running on the treadmill...unexpected company. I was determined yesterday to run an easy pace (just under 9 min/mile pace). I didn't look at the screen but twice to get an idea of how far i thought i might run. There is an unsung advantage to treadmill you can just decided to go longer without much thought to outside conditions. That is until the outside finds its way in. I was plugging along just fine working on patience and remembering how i enjoy running and not playing beat the clock. I check out the mileage just over four great definitely doing five probably six then ...the dog goes berserk and i knew i had to stop i had a visitor. It seems likely that when I am trying to work on a virtue the enemy finds a way to obstruct my path. I do have my intention and my 4.2567 mile. I did do what i set out to do. I did the hard part...committing to do something I can't control everything none of us can. Please check out my next blog on the incredible parallel between running and prayer. Also if i could ask my reader to drop me a comment every now and then. Please give me feedback so I can address your interests.

Friday, May 22, 2009

running inward

although i didn't get to run yesterday i did some thinking about it. i believe that everyone: athletes, artists, musicians, philosophers etc. spend a lot of time thinking about the laybor they love. i came to the realization i flipped on the issue of where i run.
during the cooler months and crisp weather i didn't have the heart to run inside on the treadmill. I grateful it was an option but i wasn't choosing it. now that the weather has gone south (pun intended); let's just say it's really hot and humid, i choose the treadmill.
Initially i thought i would dread being locked into using it but i have felt a change of heart. When running outside there is a lot to consider: wildlife like snakes, raccoons, coyotes, wild bore, insects, etc. there is also traffic: road traffic and cyclists to manage. Then there is the unwanted attention from well intentioned neighbors, simple glances from passers by, to horn honking. Not being able to dispense with the social pleasantries i was compelled to the polite nod to other athletes or nature watchers. Now all of those 'distractions' come with perks like sunsets and sun rises. Additionally once your gone you have to get home.
Having said all that there is a lot to be said for running in a room alone. I have found attention and effort i used to have to spend on these other matters are directed inward. My running as become an inward experience a more private one. 'Lost in my imaginations' to quote the movie Happy Feet. Not lost actually, more like found. Going inward thinking and contemplating the thoughts and concepts that I study and explore when not running. Sometimes it's about the course of the day or my daily reading time or practical matters.
At its core it's a time for assessment where am I and where to I want to be. Where have I fallen short and where have I shown progress. What really brings me joy and energy, and what is taxing. I seem to require this extreme time of expenditure to accomplish what some can do sitting quietly.
Essentially it is the time to shut out the distractions and go into the closet of my heart and mind and determine the best and right course of action or inaction. Running is a private and personal matter and I think that's why so many runners talk numbers: rankings, neg. splits, distance pace, training schedules, ... to keep private what is truly personal. The numbers are a distraction from the journey. And not to downplay the need for stats they also reflect one's commitment and determination and talent. If you win NYC Marathon it makes a statement about the person. Likewise if you finish your first marathon and come in last, it may say more.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

a widespread email on on health i received

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true? A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.
Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables? A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.
Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake? A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!
Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio? A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc. Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program? A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you? A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! ..... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?
Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle? A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.
Q: Is chocolate bad for me? A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans ! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!
Q: Is swimming good for your figure? A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.
Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle? A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape! Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets. And remember: 'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways -- Chardonnay in one hand, chocolate in the other -- body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO! What a Ride!'
AND.....For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies. 1. The Japanese eat very little fatand suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fatand suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.4. The Italians drink a lot of red wineand suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. 5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans. CONCLUSIONEat and drink what you like.Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Getting Ripped: Run Forest Run

Today was a good day for running. I did some speed work on the treadmill and clocked a quick 4.119. Doing speed work avoids my weakness 'patience' which was discussed on my most recent blog. What made this speed workout notable is that i didn't look at the eletronic feedback but twice and I was running at higher intensity with less stress on cardio. Focus is something i have been working on in several areas and running is an ideal place to hone in on that skill. The body demands it and the mind as to pay attention to the run and is free to work out one idea or issue at a time. I served as the model for theophani's photography portfolio for "a day at marathon" or whatever ever she is calling her work. It is a documentary of sorts which illustrates many roads taken to get to the marathon. After all '26.2 miles is the short run' (some sneaker motto) and 'the long run puts the tiger in cat' (runners world contributor). The real message here is not so trite we must each and everyday commit to improve ourselves and not keep our Orthodox Christianity such a secret. We need to be good examples to others and have a life filled with good deeds and kindness. This is difficult for me as nice is not an adjective regularly attributed to me. Outspoken yes, forthright yes, headstrong yes; kind ...not so much. So let's get out their despite our weakness and run the good race, to the finish and by getting up when we stumble down. So lace up everyone and pray remember it is our primary responsibility.

Cradle Orthodox Get Scolded

This is a new blog that deserves a viewing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Walking the Walk: Baptism, Repentance & Communion

Baptism. Baptism a cure for death if we continue to partake of the gifts for recovery. Through the Holy Eucharist and the Mystery of Contrition we can treat what ails us: our sin. Sin is a disease that permeates this life and the next as we are in eternity already. We belong to one Church though we live in the Church Militant we are one with the Church Triumphant. Today's run was strong and the only negative its that it takes quite a bit of time. I am somewhat competitive even when alone, that i tend to rush instead of relaxing and enjoying it more. I can't wait to run and then I want to see how fast i can get to the end. I never really know where the end is though today's three turned out to be a little more then six. I think the only thing that kept me from doing seven was my impatience. Let's remember that our Redeemer Lives and that all we have to do is serve Him. It takes more then faith, more then understanding, more then belief it requires change. How I want to change and be different.

Run, Pray, Be Prepared be Joyful

Strenuous work (labor) like running is an important tool in being the body into subjection to the mind. We live in a culture which is always seeking the easy life that magic pill. It runs contrary to the purpose of our life and taking up our cross denying ourselves. I utilize my runs to scourge my body's desire for leisure and relaxation. It assists me in turning inward and to thoughts while keeping my body busy as it were. The prayer rope helps engage the body so the soul can prayer and I require something more demanding to keep out the distractions and the sleepiness which the enemy sends my way during prayer. The work or labor of the mind is to contemplate Godly things and just as God will work "good (in terms of salvation not some prosperity doctrine being touted by many) in all things for those that love Him", the mind must also be 'single minded' and dedicated to working for the good of our soul by guarding, educating, and feeding it with spiritual food. We must flee what is evil and labor for the spiritual gifts. For me runnign teaches me to push through what is not always easy or preferable. It teaches me concretely and repeatedly how i am capable of more then what i may have thought. It prepares my mind to take control and keep composure during difficult times and to trust the process. I know that i have faced adversity and even pain before and have become practiced at following through. having the rules as i discussed in my other blog on rules is not really a piece of the answer it is essential to being a good and faithful servant. It provides the necessary structure to the day, the hour the moment. It is the road map for this pilgrimage we are on. I have been blessed with the joy from Liturgy and Vespers. It is not that worship is easy but it has become time i look forward to and non negotiable. Let's all pray that we don't forsake the spiritual labor which is demanded of us. I need to find more time in my life for quiet time and reading so that i can be a kinder gentler personal especially to those i love. In the words of Saint John Chrysostom "It is not faith merely to profess belief, but to do works worthy of faith; ... for sound doctrines avail nothing towards our salvation, if our life is corrupt. ... For even though we have all faith and all knowledge of the Scriptures, yet if we are naked and destitute of the protection derived from (holy) living, there is nothing to hinder us from being hurried into the fire of hell; and burning forever in the unquenchable flame. For as they who have done good shall rise to life everlasting, so they who have dared the contrary shall rise to everlasting punishment; which never has an end. Let us, therefore, manifest all eagerness not to waste the gain, which accrues to us from a right faith, by our vile actions; but becoming well-pleasing to Him by these [i.e., our actions] also, boldly to look upon Christ. No happiness can be equal to this."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

ominous clouds: protestantism, secularism, relativism

This morning i woke up early so that i could go downstairs and run before church. It was a good strong run and i was very glad that i purchased a free standing fan for the room. It makes a real difference helping me to cool down. When running indoors there is no air resistance or light breeze so it's necessary to have something to mimic outside. It was a good run. I could have just as easily run outside but I appreciate the privacy and not having to worry about the traffic, dogs or sudden thunderstorms. I have been reading The Way of the Pilgrim and it is amazing how the lessons from studying drift in and out throughout the course of the day. I have also been reading excerpts from the Philokalia which seems like heavy reading but once in the habit of training the mind for something solid it begins to crave the sustenance. . After church the family and I met up with close friends from church to socialize and for dinner. It is always a blessing to be in the companionship of other Orthodox Christians. Time spent with God or in contemplation and learning is never wasted or regretful. It painfully obvious and yet too often we choose to focus our attention and thoughts on things that may not necessarily lead to corruption but which do not lead us to our ultimate path. I have been thinking a lot about how as Orthodox Christians we are subjected to, or rather immersed in heresy. By this I mean the constant bombardment of Protestant ideals on the one side and secularism on the other with relativism joining them. Over time in small doses they begin to seem reasonable and not objectionable. It seeps into the structure of our thoughts and acts as an improper filter for our relationship to God. Keep watch the truth is in the small print. We need to focus on sensitizing ourselves to these discrepancies. Be attentive to your soul and it will reward your effort.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rules the foundation of the Good Life

Benefits of Rule
Rules, rules, rules. They get a bad wrap for sure. In a society were freedom of expression and liberty trump common sense and morality it is easy to fall away from basic obedience. Prayer Rules, Exercise Rules, Dietary Rules and countless others make their mark on one’s life. They teach the Biblical concepts of obedience, determination, perseverance, stamina, etc. They cultivate the landscape overtime preparing us when turmoil strikes and often times ward off trouble at the onset.
Even a small rule is vital and better than no rule at all. For example in the most common banal sense, brushing one’s teeth every morning is the least we can do for oral hygiene and the overall health of our teeth gums and body. To really address care of our oral health, we should eat less sugary foods, brush morning and night and after every meal, floss and see a dentist every six months. But even quickly brushing once daily can ward off infection, cavities and poor hygiene.
A consistent prayer rule, though small will have an even greater effect as the need is vital to our spiritual, physical and social health. A prayer life is an imperative. The established rhythm found in the Church calendar is not dead rituals but provide the very certainty and assurances we need for training our mind, body and soul for what life brings. Like the training of an elite athlete we can’t always be pushing stressing the limits of our ability. On the flip side too much recovery too much comfort compromises the fitness and ability and slowly it slips away. There is a natural ebb and flow.
So for us mortals living outside the monastery walls let’s do the basics: attend Church with regularity, pray daily (even simple small prayer) and read Biblical text (don’t underestimate a verse or two) and established readings (just a quote). Try and watch movies which provoke moral questions not which attack the gate of our soul with salaciousness or obscenity. We need to be good stewards of our own spiritual and physical health we are the gate keeper.
Additional help is on the way through disciplining the body. Shutting down the impact of the senses by intentional focus to repetitive movements change the way we perceive the world muting distractions. Physical labor like running or even walking; exercise no matter how seemingly small will also affect one’s attitude and overall health. It calls the body into obedience. Likewise fasting can be handled in small doses like meat restrictions on Wed. and Fri. will have profound effects calling our attention to our pilgrimage through this life. It seems simple enough and yet many of us break the rule without paying any note to the possibility of its long term benefit. It prepares us for the greater fasts of the church each building on the foundation of the smaller.
Society secularizes the foundational cures and preventative measures with artificial instructions and structure. Try to eat less red meat, limit red meat to no more then four times weekly, reduce intake of cheeses and dairy are all commonly heard on the news purported by the American Medical Association (AMA). Then we have stress reducing techniques. We have all be told countless times that stress is a killer. Prayer is a great way to manage stress by controlling intrusive thoughts, anxiety, slowed breathing and downtime. Now we have the AMA and self help gurus’ encouraging meditation, yoga, and even the repetition of mantras (to the exclusion of the Jesus Prayer of course).
Obviously the recommendations by themselves are not at issue here as they do have some benefit. The central problem is the marginalization and outright dismissal of the instituted practices of the Church as being in some way inferior, or archaic, or indicative of superstition and outright distraction from the more ‘intellectual and rational and scientifically proven methods’. Of course science is discovering what the Church in all her wisdom as known for millennia. Additionally, they infuse their atheistic bias into their hypothesis which will never lend credence to the teachings of the church. Definitely not to religion unless some super advance agnostic type stumbles on some obscure far eastern polytheistic belief. That is at least perceived as harmless to the overall development of the intellectual gene pool.
So establish or more importantly adopt some rules and be transformed. Understand that after the initial enthusiasm there will be resistance then doubt but keep at it. The Church encourages all to come as we are but will show us how to discover our truer self.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

AOI Bullies and Extremist Traits 101

It would be my esteemed pleasure if Fr. Johannes Jacobse would simply remove all my posts to his heretical blog and orgie of schismatics. He has along history of removing and banning any commentary which he and his posse can't bash with their extremist tactics.

Robert F. Kennedy wrote:
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."
The following are the traits and tactics utilized by political extremists.

This is also true of the orthodox brethren which consistently and willfully position themselves on the fringe of orthodoxy. They have yet to awaken to the cry of the church to return and will find themselves apostates.

Laird Wilcox on Extremist Traits

Extremists often attack the character of an opponent rather than deal with the facts or issues raised. They will question motives, qualifications, past associations, alleged values, personality, looks, mental health, and so on as a diversion from the issues under consideration. Some of these matters are not entirely irrelevant , but they should not serve to avoid the real issues.
Extremists object strenuously when this is done to them, of course!

Extremists are quick to resort to epithets (racist, subversive, pervert, hate monger, nut, crackpot, degenerate, un-American, anti-semite, red, commie, nazi, kook, fink, liar, bigot, and so on) to label and condemn opponents in order to divert attention from their arguments and to discourage others from hearing them out. These epithets don't have to be proved to be effective; the mere fact that they have been said is often enough.

Extremists tend to make sweeping claims or judgments on little or no evidence, and they have a tendency to confuse similarity with sameness. That is, they assume that because two (or more) things, events, or persons are alike in some respects, they must be alike in most respects. The sloppy use of analogy is a treacherous form of logic and has a high potential for false conclusions.

Extremists tend to be very fuzzy about what constitutes proof, and they also tend to get caught up in logical fallacies, such as post hoc ergo propter hoc (assuming that a prior event explains a subsequent occurrence simply because of their before and after relationship). They tend to project wished-for conclusions and to exaggerate the significance of information that confirms their beliefs while derogating or ignoring information that contradicts them. They tend to be motivated by feelings more than facts, by what they want to exist rather than what actually does exist. Extremists do a lot of wishful and fearful thinking.

Extremists generally tend to judge themselves or their interest group in terms of their intentions, which they tend to view very generously, and others by their acts, which they tend to view very critically. They would like you to accept their assertions on faith, but they demand proof for yours. They tend to engage in special pleading on behalf of themselves or their interests, usually because of some alleged special status, past circumstances, or present disadvantage.

To the extremist, opponents hold opposing positions because they are bad people, immoral, dishonest, unscrupulous, mean-spirited, hateful, cruel, or whatever, not merely because they simply disagree, see the matter differently, have competing interests, or are perhaps even mistaken.

Extremists have a tendency to see the world in terms of absolutes of good and evil, for them or against them, with no middle ground or intermediate positions. All issues are ultimately moral issues of right and wrong, with the "right" position coinciding with their interests. Their slogan is often "those who are not with me are against me."

This may include a very active campaign to keep opponents from media access and a public hearing, as in the case of blacklisting, banning or "quarantining" dissident spokespersons. They may actually lobby for legislation against speaking, writing, teaching, or instructing "subversive" or forbidden information or opinions. They may even attempt to keep offending books out of stores or off of library shelves, discourage advertising with threats of reprisals, and keep spokespersons for "offensive" views off the airwaves or certain columnists out of newspapers. In each case the goal is some kind of information control. Extremists would prefer that you listen only to them. They feel threatened when someone talks back or challenges their views.

Accordingly, extremists may become emotionally bound to their opponents, who are often competing extremists themselves. Because they tend to view their enemies as evil and powerful, they tend, perhaps subconsciously, to emulate them, adopting the same tactics to a certain degree. For example, anti-Communist and anti-Nazi groups often behave surprisingly like their opponents. Anti-Klan rallies often take on much of the character of the stereotype of Klan rallies themselves, including the orgy of emotion, bullying, screaming epithets, and even acts of violence. To behave the opposite of someone is to actually surrender your will to them, and "opposites" are often more like mirror images that, although they have "left" and "right" reversed, look and behave amazingly alike.

Extremists tend to frame their arguments in such a way as to intimidate others into accepting their premises and conclusions. To disagree with them is to "ally oneself with the devil," or to give aid and comfort to the enemy. They use a lot of moralizing and pontificating, and tend to be very judgmental. This shrill, harsh rhetorical style allows them to keep their opponents and critics on the defensive, cuts off troublesome lines of argument, and allows them to define the perimeters of debate.

For many extremists shortcuts in thinking and in reasoning matters out seem to be necessary in order to avoid or evade awareness of troublesome facts and compelling counter-arguments. Extremists generally behave in ways that reinforce their prejudices and alter their own consciousness in a manner that bolsters their false confidence and sense of self-righteousness.

Most obvious would be claims of general racial or ethnic superiority--a master race, for example. Less obvious are claims of ennoblement because of alleged victimhood, a special relationship with God, membership in a special "elite" or "class," and a kind of aloof "highminded" snobbishness that accrues because of the weightiness of their preoccupations, their altruism, and their willingness to sacrifice themselves (and others) to their cause. After all, who can bear to deal with common people when one is trying to save the world! Extremists can show great indignation when one is "insensitive" enough to challenge these claims.

Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences from a situation or from failure to follow a specific course, and they tend to exhibit a kind of "crisis-mindedness." It can be a Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes, floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it's just around the corner unless we follow their program and listen to the special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened have access. For extremists, any setback or defeat is the "beginning of the end!"

Extremists may deliberately lie, distort, misquote, slander, defame, or libel their opponents and/or critics, engage in censorship or repression , or undertake violence in "special cases." This is done with little or no remorse as long as it's in the service of defeating the Communists or Fascists or whomever. Defeating an "enemy" becomes an all-encompassing goal to which other values are subordinate. With extremists, the end justifies the means.

Extremists have an unspoken reverence for propaganda, which they may call "education" or "consciousness-raising." Symbolism plays an exaggerated role in their thinking, and they tend to think imprecisely and metamorphically. Harold D. Lasswell, in his book, *Psychopathology and Politics*, says, "The essential mark of the agitator is the high value he places on the emotional response of the public." Effective extremists tend to be effective propagandists. Propaganda differs from education in that the former teaches one what to think, and the latter teaches one how to think.

Extremists perceive hostile innuendo in even casual comments; imagine rejection and antagonism concealed in honest disagreement and dissent; see "latent" subversion, anti-semitism, perversion, racism, disloyalty, and so on in innocent gestures and ambiguous behaviors. Although few extremists are clinically paranoid, many of them adopt a paranoid style with its attendant hostility and distrust.

Some extremists, particularly those involved in "cults" or extreme religious movements, such as fundamentalist Christians, militant Zionist extremists, and members of mystical and metaphysical organizations, claim some kind of supernatural rationale for their beliefs and actions, and that their movement or cause is ordained by God. In this case, stark extremism may become reframed in a "religious" context, which can have a legitimizing effect for some people. It's surprising how many people are reluctant to challenge religiously motivated extremism because it represents "religious belief" or because of the sacred-cow status of some religions in our culture.

Indeed, the ideologies and belief systems to which extremists tend to attach themselves often represent grasping for certainty in an uncertain world, or an attempt to achieve absolute security in an environment that is naturally unpredictable or perhaps populated by people with interests opposed to their own. Extremists exhibit a kind of risk-aversiveness that compels them to engage in controlling and manipulative behavior, both on a personal level and in a political context, to protect themselves from the unforeseen and unknown. The more laws or "rules" there are that regulate the behavior of others--particular their "enemies"--the more secure extremists feel.

Extremists, their organizations , and their subcultures are prone to a kind of inward-looking group cohesiveness that leads to what Irving Janis discussed in his excellent book Victims of Groupthink. "Groupthink" involves a tendency to conform to group norms and to preserve solidarity and concurrence at the expense of distorting members' observations of facts, conflicting evidence, and disquieting observations that would call into question the shared assumptions and beliefs of the group.
Right-wingers (or left-wingers), for example, talk only with one another, read material that reflects their own views, and can be almost phobic about the "propaganda" of the "other side." The result is a deterioration of reality-testing, rationality, and moral judgment. With groupthink, shared illusions of righteousness, superior morality, persecution, and so on remain intact, and those who challenge them are viewed with skepticism and hostility.

Extremists often wish for the personal bad fortune of their "enemies," and celebrate when it occurs. When a critic or an adversary dies or has a serious illness, a bad accident, or personal legal problems, extremists often rejoice and chortle about how they "deserved" it. I recall seeing right-wing extremists celebrate the assassination of Martin Luther King and leftists agonizing because George Wallace survived an assassination attempt. In each instance their hatred was not only directed against ideas, but also against individual human beings.

For example, if they lose an election, then it was "rigged." If public opinion turns against them, it was because of "brainwashing." If their followers become disillusioned, it's because of "sabotage." The test of the rightness or wrongness of the system is how it impacts upon them...

AOI Washwomen At It Again

It has become painstakingly obvious that George Michalopulos, Scott Pennington, Al Green, Chrys, Dean Calvery, Eliot Ryan, Michael Baumanand others sit around day after day with nothing else to do but talk partisan politics and defame the Holy Mother Church and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Likened to brooding ducks and gossiping like wash women they follow beneath the shadow of the ‘pastoral care’ and tutelage of Fr. Johannes Jacobse on the AOI website.

AOI & Fr. Johannes Jacobse Disgraceful

THE FOLLOWING POST WAS INITIALLY PUBLISHED AND THEN REMOVED FROM THE AOI WEBSITE. Self removal. Effective immediately I will be removing myself from further discussions with the AOI. Individuals who would like to continue to have a healthy orthodox centered dialogue with me may visit my blog at This choice is a simple one for me to make in light of the circumstances which lead to the removal of Fr. Johannes Jacobse I made this mistake once before by not fully informing myself of the who’s and what’s of a website. My intention and concern has always been with raising awareness and engage fellow Orthodox Christians about the need to discuss and behave cordially with one another in respect to interpretations and misinterpretations widely circulated by splinter groups regarding the Holy Mother Church. Groups like this one and OCL seek to destroy from within. I allowed my desire to help to overcome my common sense. For more on this see my post about Lessons Learned. I will be posting this on my blog as it may not even be published on this site. I pray that all who have been lead astray come back to the true fold. I have learned to be more vigilant and not take for granted the ‘good intentions’ of others claiming to have concern for Orthodoxy. I rebuke all who would sooner ransack the church in a frenzy of their own delusion. Met. Alexios of Atlanta is just and correct in his assessment of Fr. Johannes Jacobse. I stand behind my Bishop humbly seeking his forgiveness for any of my missteps. I will continue to monitor this site and those like this and post responses and counterarguments on my blog. I am sure that ridicule will follow as it is a common tactic of extremists to distract from the real issues and to put the opposition on the defensive. Too bad Fr.Johannes Jacobse is consistently more concerned with spelling and grammar then proper protocol and obedience.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

treadmill groove

i have been coming to terms with the fact that i will be running on the treadmill for a majority of my runs since the heat is breathtaking. it went from warm to hot this week. I know there will be some runs in the evenings that i will be able to catch on the open road but until Sept. i think i'll be making like a hamster and running the wheel. it is a hypnotic monotony. it is soothing in that way. there is nothing to look out for so attention to form is possible. it also is more challenging in some ways because stopping a run in the middle or whenever is as easy as pushing a button whereas on the road you have to get back home. i have to watch and pace my mind not to become overwhelmed with the inevitability of running inside for what seems now like the long haul. i am going to put the flat screen up because the screen on the treadmill is too small and sometimes catching a movie or network show is a good distraction or starting place for thought. The other day i watched the first half of the Passion of the Christ and the Mission is another good one for running. There is always Kingdom of Heaven and Signs. Actually i could list at least 20 movies for a viewing while running. i began today's run with music compliments of george dalaras and his Paschal CD. from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection it was compelling. the determination and elation that occurs when the heart is pumping steadily with such force. it's awakening. there is always the gumball music to zone out with but just as in life when running; distractions work only temporarily. ultimately if you want to succeed and grow for the long term you have to go inside. i ran an 8.15 pace for the first four and the last 1.1 miles i slowed to cool down for 9.33. it was demanding enough to hold my focus but not enough to make it dreadful. i thought a lot about how much ground i have lost as i ran the marathon in 4.02 and the first half with 8.37 pace the total race was 9.10 min/mile. prayer life is much the same is you don't use it you lose it. I am currently reading The Way of the Pilgrim. i love running with the Patriarchal Flag hanging prominently in front of me just to my left and my Greek Flag hanging on the left wall. they are reminders of where i come from and the tremendous character of my people. I consider it my most esteemed honor and my greatest privilege to have any association with those symbols. Also in this room are the various signs my children have made for me to cheer me on during my marathons all dedicated to the Patriarch whose strength and determination are inspirational. I pray for his speedy recovery.

Praying for His All Holiness' Full Recovery

His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew l was hospitalized for a severe cold. Please join me in praying for his complete and speedy recovery. I extend my most sincere hope that his discomfort passes quickly.

Lessons Learned.

Fellow Orthodox Christians,
I learned most valuable lessons. Not every issue must be dealt with immediately. Not every response must be in a nano second. Trust only mainstream traditional sources. Stick to the basics the Holy Fathers of the Church. In an attempt to state, demonstrate, and substantiate that my position I visited unreliable websites for information and then quoted and ‘endorsed’ heretical church jurisdictions. It is a stain on my effort and a disservice to my church. I must guard constantly against deception and move with tempered words and actions. I allowed myself to move too impulsively relying on my own understanding and not the wisdom of established church sites and teachings. Although my sin was in ignorance I still lead myself astray and I pray I did not take others along with me if scandalized anyone. I will continue always to affirm the righteousness of His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, whose health I pray earnestly for today. I will rely solely reiterate and convey the standard teachings of the church which have always been sufficient for me and for the whole church. I removed what was objectionable and heretical once it was brought to my attention and I apologize for the copies which may be circulating on the web. In His service I remain indebted and an unworthy servant.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Agape Christian Love

Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit'. My only agenda is to defend to the best of my ability the sanctity and honor of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew l Archbishop of Constantinople and Pope of New Rome. Make no mistake that he and his role do not require defending or explaining but I am compelled to defend His All-Holiness as the head of my family. My duty is not derived from my own sense of perfection or innocence but more so from my Agape Christian Love and Loyalty. I do not take pride in my own words or ideas and sometimes I unknowingly misspeak but I do so in good faith and without any personal or political agenda. I strive to educate myself in spiritual matters. 'Holy things are for the Holy people of God'. My only regret is for the times I may have publicly or privately said or behaved in any manner which might reflect poorly on my Holy Mother Church. I am not angry or embittered I am merely defending my church not for egotistical reasons but because such disrespect for my church is paraded before my door. The entire situation is disheartening and saddening to me. It is horrific to bear witness to the falsehoods and salacious accusations that have been circulating. In His service, I remain, an unworthy servant of God.

clarification for edification

(Posted in comments reposting it here) I offer a brief insight into one of my papers with regards to OCA jurisdictional canonicityIn reading online blogs and the rhetoric from the “modern Day Iconoclasts” at AOI, OCL and elsewhere it seems to me that everybody is missing the point about ‘canonicity’ of the OCA. The problem truly lies with the Moscow Patriarchate. As everybody knows and agrees Jurisdiction is, put simply, a geographical boundary of a particular bishop. It is essential to mention that the “Golden Seal Certificate” of 1591 is the primary source of definition of the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.The problem today in America goes back to the 16th century when the Moscow Patriarchate took it upon herself to expand her geographic territory along with the secular power of Czarist Russia.It was then, Moscow broke canon law in regards to America. The question is how can the ‘daughter’ church be jurisdictionally legitimate if the ‘mother’ church was not within her canonical authority to bestow it? Obviously there is a common communion the real issue is jurisdictional territory.The online thugs want to make it about: ethnicity, feeling unaccepted, self interest of the Holy Patriarchates or some other irrelevant issue like an individuals grammar… one priest goes so far as to say he won’t serve people pastorally because of their insistence on cultural identity, this smells of bigotry to me. What’s next no pastoral care because of skin tone? What’s worse is his pride in that evil position.The truth of the matter is in 1794 with the arrival of Kodiak Mission’s to supposed Czarist Alaska and part of the geographical jurisdiction of the Diocese of Irkutsk, a diocese well beyond the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate, the continental problem begins. As a foot note as early as 1528 Orthodox had come to other parts of the continent; Don Theodoro with the Narváez expedition in Florida, Ioannis Fokas sailed up Pacific coast under Spanish flag in 1592… so the idea Russians was here first is another scapegoat.As the situation in North America grew further complicated and communities began to bring their own clergy from other homelands, for example The first Greek Orthodox community in the Americas was founded in 1864 in New Orleans under the Ecumenical Patriarchate. By 1900 Moscow recognizing the developing issue of jurisdictional claims to the New World began flexing her political power and unilaterally abrogated Canon law again with no concern for other jurisdictions on the continent and continued further un-canonically expansion with the change to the name of Aleutian Islands and Alaska to Aleutian Islands and ‘North America’ thus attempting to claim, in an expansionist ideology well beyond its canonical geographic and territorial boundaries an entire continent, a new anomaly for Orthodoxy.Confusion grew even further when the Ecumenical Patriarchate in 1908, temporarily transferred jurisdiction to the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. This arrangement was maintained until 1918 and in 1917 Czarist Russia fell to the communists and the Moscow Patriarchate fell into turmoil. Creating yet another element into the mix.Anybody who claims the situation is as simple as “Moscow granted us autocephaly in 1970” so the conversation is over or tells the Holy Patriarchate of our Mother Churches “Hands off” is either delusion or ignorant to the facts which brought us to this current anomaly.We must pray for the Great Council and the holy mission which they will embark upon for only they can direct the future of this Holy Vessel.

Phanariot: I wear the badge proudly

This blog began a way to encourage fellow marathoners to explore with me the greater race that we all are participant in. It is now more strongly defined by my outright protest of the insidious attempts by some to use their position as priest or hierarchy to silence the faithful. While I am not an official of the Orthodox Church I am bound by membership to protect it. This is the mandate of all the faithful the entire Body. As St. John Chrysostomos writes it is a "fundamental ecclesiological truth that all members of the Church, in a certain way, constitute a continuous Synod of the People of God." I stand firm as a "champion of the Faith,” and take seriously my duty.

Censored from Fr. Gregory not published

The Relics of St. Euphemia, Cathedral of St. George, Phanar

FR. GREGORY"S REPLY:Angela, Your words are inappropriate and unacceptable. While you are welcome to disagree with the OCA or me, the charges of schism and heresy are not yours to make and undermine your credibility. In Christ, +Fr Gregory
MY REPLY: Fr. Gregory, My sins are many but omission and silence is not numbered among them.
"The word schism (IPA: /ˈsɪzəm/ or /ˈskɪzəm/), from the Greek σχίσμα, skhísma (from σχίζω, skhízō, "to tear, to split"), means a split or a division, usually in an organization or a movement. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group. The word is most frequently and usefully used about a religious division that occur with a religious body with a defined organisation and hierarchy."
"A "heretic" is simply one who maintains a "heretical doctrine." In this instance regarding autocelphaly. The sincerity and good will of the "heretic" is not in question. Nevertheless, attacks made by Met. Jonah attacking the Ecumenical Patriarchate and against the Mother Church will not go unanswered.
As Archbishop Chrysostomos points out: [W]e must realize that the Orthodox Church is "catholic." It is meant for everyone. When, therefore, we seek to protect those within the Church from the bacterium of non-Orthodox belief..[In this case that of rebellion against the Ecumenical Patriarchate.]we must be constantly aware that this is for the purpose also of preserving Orthodoxy as a pure standard for all those who confess...
Furthermore, to lovingly help a Christian see the errors in the teachings that they hold especially those in the unique position of leadership is necessary. It is an act of love. If i fail to speak the truth i merely confirms the error. (Excerpts taken from the writings of St. Maximus the Confessor).

Response to Fr. Gregory R Jensen (censored) (see site for commentary)
In an official sense the history of the OCA is at best murky and their claims largely unsubstantiated. The OCA officials offer a mere parody of true Orthodoxy in their claims. The very foundation of the expansion of the Russian Church beyond its borders violated what had always been clearly understood. The imperial czar’s drive for expansionism beyond its borders was no cause for the violation of cannon law. If we are to honestly explore who is making disparaging claims it is the OCA. Even the Russian Church received it Patriarchal status through coercion and now it appears that its illegitimate child seeks to do the same.
The OCA does not recognize the proper protocol and perspective and behaves like an unruly child. One could dismiss such outlandish behavior if church leaders where not actively seeking to diminish church tradition and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The OCA is promoting heretical protocol and are founded by and are currently lead by schematics. The word heretic is so charged because it inflames the ego of individuals. Blinded by their own pride they forego the Truth for their own ambition. The call it hateful and wish to legislate and strong arm which opinions are heard or even spoken. Met. Jonah is a schismatic according to his own claims and direction of his jurisdiction. He is a leader of a splinter group who seeks yet again to incite his parishioners to protest and undermine the Holy Ecumenical Patriarchate.

A quick 4.1 on the treadmill

today i ran a quick 4.1 on the treadmill. I run in my exercises room which currently also is a play area for Mia. It is decorated with Americana like Norman Rockwell and of course a Ecumenical Patriarchal flag. When i run my marathons they are all offerings to Him and the efforts of the Archons who fight the good fight. The path that i take all 26.2 miles of them are easy in comparison to the demonic arrows that are shot at them from the evil one. May the good Lord send him back to hell where he belongs. I was a good run and a bit challenging considering the pace. It is a great event when you can move quickly and then easy just a bit and find recovery. It is a life lesson that clearly supports the premise that fatigue or discomfort are not reasons to stop but perhaps slow a bit for a few moments and then resume. Of course it is my nature to push against and through difficulty and resistance so before ever slowing for recovery i will push harder and faster. All the while focusing on relaxing and contemplation. I thank God for this wonderful gift of running he has given me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Compelled by Faith to Speak

I speak out against heresy and schismatics as my Lord commands. If I hold my tongue then I concur. I use my boldness to proclaim what is true as best I can. I put myself up for ridicule for my faith. I have been attacked for speaking the truth, and even for my punctuation and grammar. But souls are not saved with fanciful words and speeches but through the Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior in union with His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Church traditions are the compass bywhich we follow. I am but a speck but I will not politely watch as officials underhandedly lead the flock astray. What if even in the light there is darkness? What if the salt loses its saltiness? Orthodoxy is open to everyone but closed to modification.