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Re: [OrthodoxInfo] Re: Share your thoughts with us

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  • eugene
    Hi, John, You said below very eloquently what I was trying to express. What is the hope that is within us, for which we are called to give account, when
    Message 1 of 26 , Jul 20, 2007
      Hi, John,
      You said below very eloquently what I was trying to express.  What is "the hope that is within us," for which we are called to give account, when asked?  Is it the hope that our children will keep the fasts and their chastity until their dying breath?  Well, I HOPE so!  But I don't think that's THE hope, the one within us, that we should be able to give an account of. 
      It's a very, very bad thing when an organization begins to define itself by what it is not, and what it doesn't do; as opposed to what it is, and what it does.  This goes for any organization -- and any individual. 
      I asked Metropolitan Ephraim once why he had to distribute so many articles about how bad the Muslims are, rather than some articles that would actually help us negotiate our daily relationships.  And he said that material on how to live as an Orthodox Christian was easily obtained from the Lives of the Saints, the Scripture, and some articles that evidently our diocese had produced (which I'm not familiar with). 
      Ah yes: but even St. Cosmas of Aetolia said that these sacred sources need some "unpacking."  I'll get back to this unpacking business later.  Meanwhile, I'd like to point out that instead, what we have "unpacked" for us in article after article, email after email is this: the Muslims are against us.  The secular humanists are against us.  The media is against us.  The public schools are against us.  The homosexuals are against us.  In fact, the whole WORLD is against us.  Ad nauseum.  Forgive me.
      I understand very well that the world is under the power of the evil one and that we have to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  But do we want, venerable Fathers, brothers and sisters... do we want our children growing up with a profound sense that everyone is against them?  Or do we want our children free from fear?  Free from anger? 
      One of our brave young people once said that she expected the Church to do just one thing for her: prepare her to receive Holy Communion.  I told that to my oldest son once, God keep him (God keep both of them), and he thought that was wonderful.  If we've got that, we've got everything.  If God is for us, who can be against us? 
      To cut this short, I'd like to make a suggestion.  Why don't we all in this elist bravely trespass and talk some theology.  Let's talk about what the Faith means to us in terms of positives.  Here; I'll start:
      1)    It means that I have within me a mysterious sense of eternal glory and blessedness that I can never quite define or describe, but which seems to sustain me through the worst of personal tragedies.
      2)    It means that I can truly have NO FEAR.  Because again, if God is for me, who can be against me?
      3)    It means that I can fearlessly, again, face my own shortcomings (anger, depression, anxiety, the whole list of the passions), and realize that I am so much more than that, because God in Christ has made me more than that.
      4)    It means, on the basis of the above, that any criticism a friend or spouse or colleague has to make of me, can be heard, thought through, and responded to with honesty, because again: I am not afraid.  In other words, it means I can admit that I'm wrong, really wrong, on many occasions.
      5)    It means that I don't have to care what any person, or any institution, thinks of me, because I already know what God thinks of me: "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me."
      A couple closing points:  I'm not a deacon any longer -- just Eugene.  Secondly, it was pointed out to me by Demetrios A. that my earlier posting sounded negative.  For that, I sincerely ask forgiveness, especially from Fr. Panagiotes.  I admit that I have an anger in me that is troublesome.  I bear the responsibility, and must work to correct that anger, with God's help.  Thirdly, it was asked if I was still an Orthodox Christian.  Yes, and by God's grace hope to remain so until my death.
      John -- thank you so much for your post.  Where are you?  Where do you live?  Where's your parish?  And again, I think I'd really enjoy hearing what other people have to say about their Faith -- what is IS, rather than what it is NOT.  Any takers? 
      In Christ,
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, July 20, 2007 12:28 AM
      Subject: [OrthodoxInfo] Re: Share your thoughts with us

      Father Bless -

      I am inclined to agree with the good deacon and my fellow musician
      Fr. Eugene. I say the following, with the assertion that I believe
      wholeheartedly that the *public confessions* of our hierarchs on
      matters of the Church are 2nd to none.

      That said, I am inclined to think that we as traditionalists are
      tempted, inclined (and trained) to look for "trouble without", and
      are less likely look at the "trouble within". I know it is a
      temptation every time I turn on the television, or read the paper.
      With the experience of the internal affairs of the last 9 months
      fresh in every one's minds out here, I am just a little concerned
      that we are looking for enemies in the wrong places -I am inclined to
      think that the old Walt Kelly Pogo axiom "we have met the enemy and
      he is us" comes dangerously close to applying.

      Everytime I hear a complaint, criticism, etc of the "trouble
      without", however right and well intentioned, I must admit part of me
      says "Wait a minute! We have a house of our own to get together, a
      beam to get out of our own eye, our own elephants walking around
      clumsily in our living rooms, naked emperors, even some of our own
      loony water that gets drunk from time to time -how do we own the
      right to carp and criticize when our house is not in order?"

      I agree, that to an extent, knowledge of the "trouble without" can be
      a useful tool in sidestepping the less than savory elements of our
      society, be it secular or "sacred", but I firmly believe that in
      freedom or persecution, a Church culture that fosters a positive
      witness to the values we hold sacred as Orthodox Christians will
      shine and transfigure our darkened world, and even if in a small way,
      defines us. Continual complaining about the problems and the "perps"
      risks defining us in other ways, esp. when "trouble within" threatens.

      Forgive my musings -the sinful psaltis -John

      --- In OrthodoxInfo@ yahoogroups. com, <edurkee@... > wrote:
      > Dear Father, Bless!
      > It's a sin to judge another person's heart. Yet, at times one
      can't help but notice behaviors, and have observations on them.
      > My friends are a mix of Orthodox (very few), Quakers, atheists,
      Baptists, Hindus, etc. Mostly musicians. There are only two rules
      or codes of behavior in musical circles: be polite, and play well.
      > Like I said, although it's a sin to judge, one can't help but
      observe. And what I've observed is that my musician, non-Orthodox
      friends, tend to be more accepting, more communicative, more
      committed to looking at their own faults, more open to new
      acquaintances -- and, in a word, at least more OPEN to the
      possibility of love -- than most of my Orthodox acquaintances.
      > So in answer to your question, I'd say that we have ourselves to
      become more willing to look at our own faults, more open to new
      relationships, more willing to listen than to form opinions. That
      would be a good start.
      > Orthodox people CERTAINLY don't have the monopoly on the virtues.
      In my observation, most of the people I know who are most actively
      cultivating the virtues (e.g., humility, honesty, kindness,
      compassion, and above all, a strict attention to one's own faults),
      are NOT Orthodox.
      > We have nothing to say about the current culture, at least until
      the old calendar/traditiona list hierarchs can put aside their pride
      and self-interest and really start some reconciliation happening.
      > Meanwhile, I'll go to church and worship God in my own way, because
      that's where the truth is. I'll spend time with my heterodox
      friends, because they're just a whole lot nicer and more level-headed.
      > I DARE you to share what I've written. And one more thing:
      this "time to circle the wagons" stuff is a crock of nonsense. We're
      supposed to blow the doors off -- not lock them.
      > With respect, in Christ,
      > Eugene
      > >From: "Fr. Panagiotes Carras" <frpanagiotes@ ...>
      > >Date: 2007/07/19 Thu PM 12:14:19 CDT
      > >To: Orthodox Info Egroup <OrthodoxInfo@ yahoogroups. com>
      > >Subject: [OrthodoxInfo] Share your thoughts with us
      > >
      > > SECULAR IDOLATRY According to a new book, Fame Junkies by
      Jake Halpern, 43.4 percent of teenage girls in the United States,
      said their primary career goal was "celebrity assistant".  They
      were asked to choose between celebrity assistant, President of
      Harvard University, CEO of a Fortune 500 Company, U. S. Senator,
      > >Infatuation with fame and celebrities, however, is not confined to
      the young.  Television programs such as American idol, Canadian
      and other national ÂÂ"IdolÂÂ" programs have a large proportion of
      adult viewers. North American society, and to a lesser degree,
      the world as a whole, has become egocentric.  Even though it sees
      itself as a ÂÂ"secular societyÂÂ", in essence it is a ÂÂ"religious
      societyÂÂ" that worships the individual.  The successful
      individual becomes a celebrity and an idol.  This idol, in a truly
      demonic manner, is worshiped and hated at the same time.  The
      gossip columns, tabloids and blogs rise in popularity by focusing on
      the scandals and downfall of these idols. North American educators
      have been embracing self-esteem- building programs since the early
      1970s. One popular program, called Magic Circle, requires one child a
      day to be given a badge that says ÂÂ"I'm greatÂÂ". The other
      children then take turns praising the ÂÂ"greatÂÂ" child and
      eventually, these compliments are written up and given to the child
      for posterity. Programs like this were intended to make young people
      feel better about themselves, but many educators now concede that
      they may have overshot the mark and fostered a culture of narcissism
      among North American youth. Where do we as Orthodox Christians fit
      in this idolatrous world?  How do we protect ourselves and our
      children from drinking from the narcissistic loony water that is all
      around us?  Please let us hear from clergy and parents.  Share
      with us what we can do, as Orthodox Christians.
      > >
      > >In Christ, +Fr. Panagiotes
      > > Sick sense of humor? Visit Yahoo! TV's Comedy with an Edge
      to see what's on, when.

    • Mary Bockman Lytle
      Holy Father, Bless! Always suspicious of such sensational statements as 43.4 percent of teenage girls in the United States said their primary career goal was
      Message 2 of 26 , Jul 21, 2007
        Holy Father, Bless!

        Always suspicious of such sensational statements as "43.4 percent of
        teenage girls in the United States said their primary career goal
        was 'celebrity assistant'", especially when someone is trying to sell
        a book, I thought I'd check into Halpern's survey, which was the
        basis for his FAME JUNKIES. Halpern's description of the survey
        follows below and is worth reading.

        Jesus told His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him
        deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For
        whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose
        his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man
        advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast
        away?" (Luke 9:23-25).

        When someone believes that created things are capable of taking care
        of his life, as many of the respondents of Halpern's survey
        apparently do, greed -- not God -- becomes the driving value in his
        life. Idolatrous greed -- devotion to oneself, striving to acquire
        reputation, status, social contacts, power, wealth, posessions, and
        fame -- is the age-old scourge of fallen man.

        "Where do we as Orthodox Christians fit in this idolatrous world?" We

        "How do we protect ourselves and our children from drinking from the
        narcissistic loony water that is all around us?" We are examples to
        our children of a God-centered life. We teach them not only by our
        words, but by our deeds, that our labors are devoted to God's glory,
        not our own; that the fruits of our labors are the outpouring of
        God's blessings, not our own achievement. They will learn by our
        example that God -- not reputation or status or social contacts or
        power or wealth or posessions or fame -- is the Source of everything
        we need in this world and the next.

        In the love of our Saviour,
        Mary Beth Lytle


        THE FAME SURVEY . . .

        As part of my research for Fame Junkies, I teamed up with several
        academics and conducted a survey of some 650 teenagers in the
        Rochester, New York, area. The survey yielded some interesting and
        disturbing findings on how teens think about fame. Some highlights
        are included below. Detailed information on how exactly this survey
        was administered is included at the bottom of this page.

        [1] I'd rather be famous than smart . . .
        [2] Jennifer Lopez is more popular than Jesus . . .
        [3] Forget being president of Harvard – Make me a celebrity personal
        assistant . . .
        [4] Black kids are more desperate for fame . . .
        [5] Teens who watch TV and read "glam mags" want and expect fame the
        most . . .
        [6] Heavy TV-watchers are especially likely to believe fame will
        improve their lives . . .
        [7] Lonely and depressed kids hope that fame will solve their
        problems . . .
        [8] Lonely kids are also more likely to follow the lives of
        celebrities . . .
        [9] Lonely kids prefer 50 Cent and Paris Hilton to Jesus . . .
        [10] Kids believe that celebrities deserve their fame . . .

        [1] I'd rather be Famous than Smart . . .
        In one of the questions in the survey, teens were given the option
        of "pressing a magic button" and becoming stronger, smarter, famous,
        or more beautiful. As it turns out, boys in the survey chose fame
        almost as often as they chose intelligence, and girls chose it more

        [2] Jennifer Lopez vs. Jesus . . .
        As part of the survey, students were asked to choose which famous
        person they would most like to have dinner with. There were a range
        of options including "none of the above." Among the girls who opted
        for the dinner, the least popular candidates by far were President
        Bush (2.7%) and Albert Einstein (3.7%). Far ahead of them were Paris
        Hilton and 50 Cent (both at 15.8%), who tied for third place. Second
        place went to Jesus Christ (16.8%) and the winner was Jennifer Lopez

        [3] Forget being President of Harvard – Make me a Celebrity Personal
        Assistant . . .
        Another question asked: "When you grow up, which of the following
        jobs would you most like to have?" There were five options to chose
        from and, among girls, the results were as follows: 9.5% chose "the
        chief of a major company like General Motors"; 9.8% chose "a Navy
        Seal"; 13.6% chose "a United States Senator"; 23.7% chose "the
        president of a great university like Harvard or Yale"; and 43.4%
        chose "the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star."
        It's worth noting: Research psychologists, like Robert Cialdini at
        Arizona State University, have long suspected that people with low-
        self esteem are the ones most likely to "bask in the reflected glory"
        of others. This appears to be true here. For example, among girls who
        indicated that they received bad grades in school (i.e., C's or
        below), the percentage who opted to become assistants rose to 67%.
        What's more, among both boys and girls who got bad grades – and who
        described themselves as being unpopular at school – the percentage
        who opted to become assistants rose further to 80%.

        [4] Black Kids Are More Desperate for Fame . . .
        African American kids were especially keen on becoming famous. When
        asked whether they would rather become famous, smarter, stronger, or
        more beautiful, 42% of them opted for fame whereas only 21% of whites
        did so. What's more, almost 44% of African Americans said that their
        families would love them more if they became famous, while only 27%
        of white students said so.
        It's Worth Noting: Of course, there are many ways to explain
        this data, but one factor to be considered is that African American
        kids often have especially hard childhoods. According to a 2005
        article in the New York Times, two-thirds of black children are born
        out of wedlock and nearly half of those children who live in single-
        parent households are poor. All of this seems to suggest that
        hardship may be driving many African American kids to embrace fame as
        a remedy to their woes.

        [5] Teens who watch TV and read "glam mags" want and expect fame the
        most . . .
        According to the study, teenagers who regularly watch certain
        celebrity-focused TV shows – namely Entertainment Tonight, Access
        Hollywood, and Insider – are more likely to believe that they
        themselves will someday become famous. The same trend appears to be
        true for those teenagers who read celebrity-focused magazines like US
        Weekly, Star, People, Teen People, YM and J-14. There is also a
        strong correlation between how many hours of television that
        teenagers watch in general and how badly they want to become famous.
        One of the questions on the survey asked: "If you could push a magic
        button that would change your life in one way, which of the following
        would you pick?" The options were (a) becoming smarter, (b) becoming
        much bigger or stronger, (c) becoming famous, (d) becoming more
        beautiful, and (e) my life doesn't need any changing. Among those
        teens who watched one hour of television a day or less, only 15% of
        the boys and 17% of the girls opted for fame. But among those teens
        who watched five hours or more a day – and a good number of them did –
        29% of the boys and 37% of the girls opted for fame.
        It's worth noting: Admittedly, it's unclear whether these TV shows
        are to blame, or whether the kids are opting to watch these shows
        because they already believe that they're destined for fame. There is
        evidence, however, that some TV shows are to blame. One question in
        the study asks: When you watch TV shows or read magazine articles
        about the lives of celebrities, how do they make you feel? A number
        of teens commented that such stories made them feel like they could
        and would become famous. One wrote: "When I watch TV shows or read
        magazine articles about the lives of celebrities, this makes me feel
        like one day I will probably be in their shoes." Another wrote: "They
        make me feel like one day I'll be there on the magazine, talking or
        telling people about my life."

        [6] Heavy TV-watchers are especially likely to believe that fame will
        improve their lives . . .
        Findings from the survey also suggest that teenagers who watch
        television frequently are more likely to believe that fame will
        improve their lives. For example, teens who watch five hours or more
        of television a day are significantly more likely than those who
        watch just an hour or less to agree with the statement, "Becoming a
        celebrity [will] make you happier." Teens who watch five hours of
        television or more a day are also twice as likely as those who watch
        an hour or less to believe that their family will love them more if
        they become a celebrity.

        [7] Lonely and depressed kids hope that fame will solve their
        problems . . .
        According to the Rochester survey, there is some compelling evidence
        that children who feel lonely, depressed, and under-appreciated are
        more likely to seek fame in the hopes that this will make them
        happier or better liked. For example, teens who described themselves
        as often or always "depressed" were more likely than others to
        believe that becoming a celebrity would make them happier. Teenagers
        who described themselves as feeling "lonely" were also more likely to
        believe that fame would make a positive impact on their lives –
        though the results were slightly different for boys and girls. Lonely
        boys were more likely to reply that fame would simply make
        them "happy," whereas lonely girls were more likely to answer that
        fame would make them better liked by kids at school.
        Ultimately, some of the most compelling evidence about the
        relationship between loneliness and the desire for fame comes from
        question #20 on the Rochester survey, which asked: "If you suddenly
        became a celebrity – like a movie star or a rock star – what would be
        the best thing about being famous?" The answer for a number of teens
        was simply companionship. "If I was to become famous, people would
        probably think I was sooo cool and they would all want to be my
        friend," wrote one participant. "A lot more people would notice me
        and my friends might want to be with me more," wrote another. "I
        would have a lot of friends and I would have a lot of really, really,
        really nice clothes," wrote a third.

        [8] Lonely kids are also more likely to follow the lives of
        celebrities . . .
        There is also evidence from the Rochester survey that lonely
        teenagers are especially susceptible to forming para-social
        relationships with celebrities. Boys who described themselves as
        lonely were almost twice as likely as those who said they weren't
        lonely to endorse the statement: "My favorite celebrity just helps me
        feel good and forget about all of my troubles." Meanwhile, girls who
        described themselves as lonely were almost three times as likely as
        those who said they weren't lonely to endorse that statement.

        [9] Lonely kids preferred 50 Cent and Paris Hilton to Jesus . . .
        Another interesting phenomenon emerged in a question that asked teens
        whom they would most like to meet for dinner: Jesus Christ, Albert
        Einstein, Shaquille O'Neil, Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent, Paris Hilton, or
        President Bush. For boys who said they were not lonely, the clear
        winner was Jesus Christ. For those who described themselves as
        lonely, however, Jesus finished at the back of the pack and 50 Cent
        was the clear winner. A similar trend exists for girls who feel
        underappreciated by their parents, friends, and teachers. These girls
        tended to favor having dinner with Paris Hilton, whereas those girls
        who felt appreciated were far more likely to opt for dinner with
        Jesus Christ. It's hard to know exactly what explains these results,
        but one interpretation would be that lonely and underappreciated
        teens are especially desperate to befriend the ultimate popular guy
        or girl.

        [10] Kids Believe that Celebrities Deserve their fame . . .
        In the Rochester survey, teenagers were asked to choose the most
        likely explanation of why certain celebrities were so successful.
        There were a number of options including luck, innate talent, hard
        work, and even the possibility that the entertainment industry simply
        decides to turn certain people into stars. Of these options, however,
        more teenagers chose "hard work" than all of the other options

        Details on Exactly How this Survey Was Administered . . .

        I. The Basic Information
        Jake Halpern and Professor Carol M. Liebler of Syracuse University
        wrote a survey containing 32 questions, most of which were related to
        fame and pop culture. Copies of this survey were distributed to a
        total of 653 students at three different schools in and around
        Rochester, New York. The students were 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th
        graders. Meredith Hight, a graduate student at Syracuse's Newhouse
        School of Public Communications, input this data into an SPSS
        database. Summary responses were tabulated by Professor Elaine Allen
        at Babson College. Professor Grant segmented the results by
        demographic information and by several key variables including
        loneliness and amount of television viewing among others. Analyses
        were examined using chi-squared statistics, with results having a p-
        value less than 0.05 determined to be statistically significant.
        (Statistical Significance implies that there is a relationship
        between the categories that were being compared.) For good measure,
        these results were then reviewed and confirmed by Professor Richard
        McGowan at Boston College. In text below, the details and methodology
        of this study are explained.

        II. Why Rochester, New York?
        In 2004, Josh Herman – who works for a company called Acxiom –
        authored his "Mirror on America" study, in which he ranked those
        cities whose consumer demographics most closely reflect that of the
        U.S. as a whole. Herman did this by using a system called Personicx,
        which analyzes demographic information such as age, marital status,
        home ownership, number of children, estimated income, net worth
        and "urbanicity" (i.e., whether you live in the city, suburbs, or
        countryside). Using this method, Herman compiled a list of those 150
        metropolitan areas whose demographics are the best "mirrors" of
        America as a whole. In September of 2004, Rochester, New York, ranked
        second on the list.
        For the most part, Personicx is used by marketers who want to better
        understand the "consumer landscape" of a given city. Admittedly, for
        purposes of this survey, the Acxiom study it is not a perfectly ideal
        tool for measuring the comprehensive demographics of American cities –
        in the way that the U.S. Census Bureau does, for example – because
        it does not look at certain factors like race, national origin, or
        religion. Nonetheless, it does provide a strong indication of which
        cities are most quintessentially American, and Rochester is at the
        top of the list.

        III. Information on the Three Schools in Rochester, N.Y.
        Three different schools participated in this study, including one in
        the city of Rochester and two in the suburbs. Some basic information
        on each of these schools is provided below:

        1. Monroe High School (Rochester School District): There are 1,192
        students at this school. Surveys were given to 8th graders during
        class time. This school has a high percentage of poor and minority
        students. The total non-white population at Monroe High School is
        88.1%. The poverty rate at the school is 89.1%, which is defined by
        the percentage of students who are eligible for a free or reduced-
        price lunch.
        2. Twelve Corners Middle School (Brighton School District): There are
        865 students at this school. It is situated in Brighton, which is a
        suburb of Rochester. The surveys were given to 6-8th graders during
        class time in health and "home and career" classes. At this school,
        the demographics are as follows: 75.8% Caucasian/White, 10.4% Asian,
        6.8% Black/African-American, and 3.1% Latino.
        3. Willink Middle School (Webster School District): There are 1,100
        students at this school. It is situated in Webster, which is a suburb
        of Rochester. The surveys were given to 6-8th graders at the end of
        classes and during study halls. At this school, the demographics are
        as follows: 93.3% Caucasian/White, 6.6% Hispanic, 3.1% African
        American, 1.8% Asian.

        IV. Demographic Information on the Participants
        Of the 653 students who participated in the study, their demographic
        information is as follows:

        Gender: There were 312 Males, 310 Females, and 31 subjects who did
        not indicate their gender.
        Grade: There were 2 fifth graders, 76 sixth graders, 165 seventh
        graders, and 377 eighth graders.
        Race: There were 329 whites/Caucasians, 95 mixed, 62 black/African-
        American, 58 Hispanic/Latino, and 14 Native American.
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