Christ is Risen!

I may be one of the first in the Ortho-blogosphere to say it, being on the eastern side of the Atlantic and missing the Vigil. Everyone else will just be transitioning from Matins to Liturgy about now.

I wanted to go tonight, but I was afraid I would fall asleep at the wheel on the way, not to mention on the way back. With the Unnamed Woman needing to stay home with the Unnamed Children, I would be on my own. After pulling an all-nighter marking pupil folders on Thursday/Friday, I still have not fully recovered. I’m not sure and hour and a half starting at 3:00 am on a winding two-lane A-road already known for fatal accidents is a place to be.

But I’m sure if I wanted to go bad enough, I would have made it happen. I suppose I could have pulled off the road if necessary.

Lent has been a washout, really. My usual lack of fasting after the first week and spiritual uselessness. I had the chance to attend Liturgy twice locally and managed to oversleep both times. The only significant reading I’ve done, other than in my new Orthodox Study Bible, is a book on St Columba.

But Christ is Risen. Whether or not I’m a spiritual washout, Christ is Risen.

Christ is Risen, and life reigns.

Observing the Day

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

Romans 14:5-6

Today is the Sunday of St Gregory Palamas, unless you are in the Western Church (or just culturally attached to a country historically a part of the Western Church), in which case it is Easter. Even though we are Orthodox, we have been celebrating Easter. This is not because I’m not particularly a big fan of St Gregory and his hesychasm. Rather it is because one unnamed child is in a Catholic school with Catholic (or at least Catholic-influenced) friends, plus Western cultural and Western Christian grandparents with chocolate and cards and presents, Easter fetes, Easter egg hunts – you get the picture. Explaining that we don’t actually celebrate Pascha for more than another month has pretty much fallen on deaf ears. I don’t want to deny that I put this down to bad Ortho-parenting as much as anything.

I’m sure that as we get closer to Pascha, the kids will get reasonably excited again, especially if we come up with more chocolate and gifts.

It seems to go entirely against the teaching of St Paul in Romans that the observance of days is one of the key issues separating parts of the Orthodox from each other (New Calendarists versus Old Calendarists) as well as a sticking point separating the Orthodox and Catholics (though there are a number of others of greater or lesser significance). I know there are much more theologically astute and devotionally pure adherants on both sides who could explain the deep importance of this and it congruence with the Epistle to the Romans. (I don’t think any of them visit this blog, so I doubt there will be any explaining in the comments – though they are welcome.) After all, as Orthodox, we interpret Scripture as a part of the Tradition of the Church. I also know that the dating of Pascha was one of the earliest and most divisive issues in the Church.

So Happy Easter to all of my Western friends, while we Orthodox do a little more omphaloskepsis in honour of St Gregory.

Christians Are Just Too Happy

As Western Easter approaches, it seems the voice of disbelief has gotten louder. I don’t know if I just happen to be surfing to the wrong blogs, but especially being post-Christian seems quite fashionable. That’s not to say that never-have-believed crowd is being pushed to the side.

Andrew McKie, the Obituaries Editor of The Daily Telegraph dared to blog today “Why I believe in God“, and most of the responses are the same atheist drivel. Stuff like: “After Darwin kicked away one of the major supports of Christianity, it was downhill all the way. Because only Flat-earthers and Americans buy that Creationist/Intelligent Design crap.” You gotta love that poncy British air of superiority.

But the most ridiculous of all is, “Over time religious people will die off and nonbelief and science will triumph over ancient mythology.” The only problem is that there are more and more religious people. Christianity is growing at a far greater rate in the global south than it is dying out in western Europe. And not only do religious people far outnumber non-believers, but they also have a much higher rate of procreation.

As I commented in response on McKie’s blog, what’s actually dying is western Europe itself. At well below the replacement rate of population, nonbelief is on pace to die out pretty quick. This is because humanism has a very selfish, personal side. A significant number put off procreating until it is biologically too late and if they do it at an inconvenient time, and miss the morning-after pill, they elect to have one of the 200,000 abortions recorded in the UK each year.

The same commenter then said something even more ludicrous: “Some recent studies indicate that religious people are happier than nonbelievers. People are always happier when they are deluded because they do not realize there is a reason for them to be unhappy. Couple that with the fact that nonbelievers in the United States are marginalized and attacked by believers it should surprise no one that nonbelievers are less happy.”

That’s right. Christians are happier because they are deluded. If they knew the truth, they would be as unhappy as everyone else. What a depressing worldview. And non-believers are not just unhappy because they are not deluded. No, it is the fault of those happy Christians! Or more specifically, those happy American Christians. They are compounding the depression of nihilism already oppressing the unbelievers! Roving gangs of happy Christians attacking random unbelievers. No doubt stopping unbelievers on the street and when they can’t pass the Christian shibboleths, marginalising them right then and there.

And it would appear that according to this commenter, the impact of these American attacks is felt world-wide by non-believers, making all of them less happy. Who knew? Well, clearly not believers. They have been blissfully deluded.

Limp BBC Jesus

The BBC has re-written the Gospel for a four-part miniseries called “The Passion”. It is to be shown in western Holy Week.

The Jesus of the BBC is so squishy and limp that even the liberal philosopher/theologian/columnist/Anglican vicar Giles Fraser thinks He’s nice but dull. “Following his BBC makeover Jesus is transformed into a sympathetic male nurse preaching the gospel of equal opportunities.”

No, there’s nothing there to offend anyone. This is the Jesus of Religious Education classes in most schools. He’s has lots of nice platitudes, but there’s no “Take up your cross and follow Me.” There’s no “I’m the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There’s no “Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no part in Me.”

Judas in no longer a bad guy. Neither is Caiaphas. According to the series producer, “By such accounts as there are from the time, Caiaphas was reckoned to be a fair man and a good high priest. [He was] a man doing a very difficult job and doing it well.” So why would such a fair man plot to put such an inoffensive man to death?