Thursday, April 23, 2015

Did Religion Create Civilization?

For years, historians, archeologists, anthropologists and pretty much all of the other "ologists" have agreed that agriculture created civilization, including religion, as we have known it for the past 12,000 to 15,000 years. The assumption was that settling down to lives of farming, people built cities, created art and made up organized religions to suit the new needs they faced in the transition from hunter-gathers to farmers. Or not.

New evidence suggests that it was not agriculture which created civilization, but religion. The June issue of National Geographic offers a brief and provocative story from a place in Turkey known as Göbekli Tepe, site of the world's oldest example of monumental architecture i.e. a temple.

Read more at HuffPo

Saint George the Great Martyr

On April 23, we commemorate George the Great Martyr & Triumphant

George, this truly great and glorious Martyr of Christ, was born of a father from Cappadocia and a mother from Palestine. Being a military tribune, or chiliarch (that is, a commander of a thousand troops), he was illustrious in battle and highly honoured for his courage. When he learned that the Emperor Diocletian was preparing a persecution of the Christians, Saint George presented himself publicly before the Emperor and denounced him. When threats and promises could not move him from his steadfast confession, he was put to unheard-of tortures, which he endured with great bravery, overcoming them by his faith and love towards Christ. By the wondrous signs that took place in his contest, he guided many to the knowledge of the truth, including Queen Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, and was finally beheaded in 296 in Nicomedia. His sacred remains were taken by his servant from Nicomedia to Palestine, to a town called Lydda, the homeland of his mother, and then were finally transferred to the church which was raised up in his name. (The translation of the Saint's holy relics to the church in Lydda is commemorated on November 3; Saint Alexandra the Queen, on April 21.) If April 23 falls on or before Great and Holy Pascha, the Feast of St. George is translated to Bright Monday.

Read more at GOArch.org

Saint George is also seen as a patron saint of soldiers, and his icon can be seen on the left of my blog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is the Apostle Paul the Great Falsifier of Apostolic Succession

A few years ago, I wrote a five-part response—and recorded an accompanying podcast—to an article at The Calvinist International on the patristic critique of icons (or lack thereof, as it were).

In the original article, a Presbyterian pastor named Steven Wedgeworth shared five excerpts from the early Church supposedly demonstrating their disdain for iconography. The proofs were brief, and he offered little commentary in support. However, the claims he did make were sweeping, and so I dedicated not a few words in response.

A friend recently made me aware of a new post on “Reformed irenicism” at their site, and some of its own, sweeping claims.

While speaking of their perspective on the Church, Wedgeworth drops this rhetorical bombshell:

"The Apostle Paul is the great falsifier of apostolic succession. He was not initially commissioned by Jesus Christ, and he did not “succeed” the original 12 apostles. He did not derive his authority from them, and he is emphatic about this point. Galatians 1:12 and 2:6 state exactly this, and when Paul has to defend his apostolicity throughout the 2nd Epistle to the Corinthians, starting in chapter 6, he makes no appeal to his credentials or office-bearing as such but instead points to the charismatic proof of his suffering and ministerial fruit."

This is not in any way cited out of context, nor is there any additional material on this specific point either in support or for further explanation.

Read more at On Behalf of All

The Use of Candles in the Orthodox Church

Question: Why do we light candles in the Orthodox Church?

Answer: There are typically two types of candles that Orthodox are familiar with. First there are the genuine pure beeswax candles made from the combs of hives. Secondly, there are the paraffin wax candles made from petroleum. When the Fathers of the Church speak of the Orthodox use of candles, they are referring to the pure beeswax candles and not the latter. Paraffin wax produces carcinogens and soot when burned. In fact, one air quality researcher stated that the soot from a paraffin candle contains many of the same toxins produced by burning diesel fuel.

With this information in mind, we can better understand the six symbolic representations of lit candles handed down to us by Saint Symeon of Thessaloniki:

Read more at Mystagogy

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Christianity Without Repercussions: Faith pt 2

In my last post on faith, I touched on the differences between the typical Protestant worship service, and the typical Orthodox worship service. Technically, every Orthodox service is a worship service, but I really only covered the Divine Liturgy, with a brief glimpse at Matins (I haven't even touched on Vespers, Royal Hours, Lenten services, Paschal services, Memorial services, etc). In this post, I am going to continue to compare and contrast services.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pascha!

It is a bit later in the day than when I normally like to post, however, given that I didn't even get to sleep until after 3AM due to the Pascha celebrations I think the time evens out.