Is YHWH a War Criminal?

Very interesting look at war and devastation in the Old Testament.

Alastair's Adversaria

The question of divine goodness and justice in light of the deep problems raised by the biblical commands concerning the slaughter of the Canaanites seems to be the hot topic right now. Philip Jenkins writes on the subject of the Bible’s violent texts in the Huffington Post. John Piper has recently made some remarks on the subject. The subject has also come up in several conversations on Twitter that I have seen or been involved in over the last few days.

John Piper takes the God owes us nothing approach to the question, making the startling and, frankly, appalling statement that ‘It’s right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.’ Such a proposed solution to the problem seems to be founded upon a profoundly nominalistic conception of God, which conceives of God in terms of will, right, and power, to the exclusion of or in detachment…

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Transformer

Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

The Fathers say that despair is a great danger to spiritual life. Once you fall into it, it is very difficult to climb out. It frequently comes up in confession, and as a spiritual advisor, it is one of the most difficult spiritual states to cure. The Fathers called it “acedia.” (Pronounced “ah see dee ah”) Today, we call this passion “despair.”

How does this passion work in us? The first temptation is disappointment -we feel with certainty that nothing has gone as we wanted. The second temptation is irritation and anger- we wonder why has God done this to me? Disappointment comes upon us and turns to a sorrow that deepens into despair. This entire process is fueled by an inner voice that says, “I deserved better. If God really loved me, he would not have let this happen. ” Profound sadness convinces us that there is no hope…

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Tongue Speaker

Ramblings of a Redneck Priest

Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels…”- I Corinthians 13

It’s a wonderful idea to think that the Lord never gives us a command without giving us the means to fulfill that command. Christ told the Apostles to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. This is tough to do when all you speak is some Aramaic, and maybe a little Greek or Latin. On the day of Pentecost, the early Church received the grace to fulfill the command of Christ. When the Holy Spirit fell upon the Mothers and Fathers in the upper room, they spoke in tongues. No, I don’t mean “glossolalia”, or the language of charismatics or modern day Pentecostals. I mean that the early Church was given the grace to fulfill the Lord’s command, and on that first day of Pentecost, those gathered from all…

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Orthodox Way of Life

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The final goal of man is communion with God. The path to this communion has been precisely defined: faith, and walking in the Commandments with the help of God’s grace. 

-Saint Theophan the Recluse

The purpose of life taught by the Apostles and the Church Fathers is one of finding union with God. Jesus came to save us and to open the gates of heaven for us. He showed us how to live through His teaching and example. He showed us that we have nothing to fear in death.

Of course, you need labor and effort, both mental and from the heart. Do not spare yourself. If you do, you will ruin yourself. Do not spare yourself, and you will have salvation. Abandon a certain wrongful activity that often strikes and afflicts almost everyone: That is, the fact that we spare no labor on any matter except when it comes to that of salvation. We want to think that we have only to contemplate salvation and desire it, and everything is all set. That is not how it happens in reality. The matter of salvation is the most important thing. Consequently it is the most difficult. This is by virtue of its importance and by the labor required. Labor then, for the Lord’s sake! Very soon you will see the fruit. If you do not set to work, however, you will be left without anything and be unworthy. Deliver us, Lord, from this!

—St. Theophan the Recluse, The Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, Letter 51

“Theology without action (praxis) is the theology of demons.”

—St. Maximos the Confessor

Ten Pont Program

Practical Instructions

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The Significance of the “Six Psalms” of the Orthodox Matins Service

Matins (also spelled Mattins, from the Latin, matutinae, “morning”), also called Orthros (from Greek, meaning “morning”, “dawn” or “day break”), is the longest and most complex of the daily cycle services. Matins is celebrated in the morning, unless it is celebrated as part of a vigil in the evening.

The Six Psalms

by Tyler Dykstra
The Six Psalms (Psalms 3, 37, 62, 87, 102, and 142) are a regular part of nearly every Orthros (Matins) service in the Church. Taken as a single unit, they are never omitted, except during Paschaltide (the 39 days after Pascha) [Or in other traditions, during Bright Week.]

The Six Psalms (in Greek, Hexapsalmos) is one of the most important parts of Orthros. It is “a time when all should put aside other thoughts, stand quietly, and concentrate on these penitential prayers.”1 Truly, it is one of the holiest moments in the Orthros service.
These Psalms are a summary of the Christian life, highlighting the sorrow that we so often meet along the way to our eternal joy.

In some traditions, all the candles or lights in the church are extinguished while these Psalms are read. This, along with the phrase “Glory to God in the highest,” calls to mind the dark night when Christ was born. It also affords us concentration on the Psalms’ words. According to Archbishop Benjamin of Nizhegorod and Arzamas:

This is done so that we, able to see nothing with our eyes, might listen to the Six Psalms attentively and with fear [of God] and so that everyone standing in the dark might shed a tear and release a tender sigh. For at night, and if there is no lighted candle nearby, it is difficult for people to see one another. It is for this reason that the ustav (rubric) directs: thus we pronounce the Six Psalms with all attentiveness and fear of God, as conversing with our invisible Christ God Himself, and praying over our sins.2

Click here to read the entire article:  6 Psalms of Matins

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Lenten Advice

As we enter into the Lenten season, there are loads of articles and information to read to steer us in the direction of working out our Repentance.  This article was written as Pastoral advice for the ones who shepherd a flock of believers.  As I read the words Archpriest Andrei offered, I also noticed his commentary on today’s world and where we came from and am going to.
He gives us an edifying word on learning to cope in today’s ‘modern’ world especially during the Great Lent, though, not really just for Great lent, but for our day by day struggle through-out the year.  Maybe his words of encouragement may help us to understand that God and His Church come first!  Maybe his words of encouragement will help us to manage our day to day world as Orthodox Christians striving toward becoming more like Jesus our Christ.
Just maybe we can slow down and read and comprehend what he is telling us.  Then we can act!!
Lenten pastoral advice from Archpriest Andrei Tkachev, rector of the Church of the Resurrection, Moscow:
Not all believers, however many they may be, can fast exactly the same—because of their differences in age, health, lifestyle, and degree of participation in Church life. And the eras, one replacing another, impose their characteristic stamp upon the spiritual life, transforming one and the same spiritual labor not into a repetition of what was before, but into something completely unique and special.
Wherein lies the modern particularities of our Lenten podvig?
The first thing that jumps out at you is the time that the usual person spends on travel today. To get to work, and after work to get to church, and then to return home, you can’t just cross the street or go a few hundred feet, but you have to go on a long and familiar journey. It’s a grueling routine with city transportation, it’s a daily drain on strength and money. In the best case, it’s an hour to work, an hour from work to church, and an hour from the service home. Altogether, its three hours of this difficult and specific “work,” draining your remaining physical and mental strength.
Meanwhile, the Church guidelines don’t take such traveling into account. They’re based on a monastery, where from your cell to the place of your obedience is no distance at all, and from the place of your obedience to the church is a five-minute walk. From here, there’s the possibility to have several hours to gather strength for the long prayer labor in church. Rural life also assumes the proximity of house, church, and place of work. Here’s the field, here’s home, and now the sound of a nearby bell, calling to church. Also, the cenobitic life of a monastery assumes that, returning from the service, you will find food ready in the trapeza, although the most meager due to Lent, but ready all the same. But the secular pilgrim (most often a woman) has to, having arrived home, get to the stove and feed the household. As you can see, her podvig doubles, and even triples.
We cannot radically change the conditions of life, but we can change our attitude towards them. Here sensitivity and compassion are needed from spiritual fathers for “the little parishioner” who is fighting for his life, is exhausted from his messy life, and is trying to serve God. He doesn’t read everything, doesn’t make it through everything, doesn’t hear everything. And of what he does hear and read, he doesn’t understand everything. We need patience and condescension. Increased demands and the morose mien of an expert instructing the ignorant are unacceptable. We must understand that the enemy of morning prayer is the rush, and of evening prayer—fatigue. So, perhaps you have to learn the prayers and psalms by heart to pray from memory, leaning against the window in the metro car. We mustn’t rebuke someone for this kind of prayer, but rather, we should encourage and comfort him.
One more necessary comment about the eras with their peculiarities—it’s the shift of accent from food to information. The man of previous eras was healthier and hardier than our contemporaries. An empty stomach was necessary for him for the decrease of his biological activity. It was necessary to truly weaken, in order to restrain his wild passions. But modern man is, more often than not, sickly and utterly weak. He doesn’t suffer from an excess of physical strength, and he’s not moving mountains. He, on the contrary, wakes up tired and barely moves his feet throughout the day. On the other hand, he is overfed, stuffed with information pouring into his eyes and ears like tropical rain, which has made many like patients of a psychiatric clinic, who just sleep at home for some reason.
To turn off the television and not turn it on at least for the first week, the week of the Cross, and Holy Week would be much more useful than to check food labels: whether there’s dried milk, or something else non-fasting there. Music, gossip and idle chatter, TV shows, “hanging out” on your favorite sites—these things are more dangerous than a glass of milk, and require a stricter, or even more merciless attitude towards yourself.
Of course, I’m not saying you should go on an “information fast” and continue to eat whatever you want. Bodily restraint, as the fathers have said, is truly “the mother of all good things.” You have to dry out the belly and give alms, you have to practice reading the Holy Scriptures and kneeling. But we have to understand the peculiarities of the world in which we live, and not try, as St. Philaret of Moscow said, to turn our city into the Thebaid, and the nineteenth century into the fifth. And St. Philaret’s contemporary, no less miraculous in life and in thought, St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov), would repeat as a commandment the words: “Understand the times.”
An unsober, reason-less attitude towards life breeds mistakes with every step and discredits the very possibility of leading a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1 Tim. 2:2).
Thus, we mustn’t use the same measuring stick with everyone, but work it out with each person as an “isolated case.” It’s impossible to take into account the real commotion of cities, with their distances, and traveling, and fatigue. And we must remember that fasting and prayer are the mental work of the inner man, and that means, the enemy of this labor is an excess of information to an even greater degree than an excess of calories.
The rest is a matter of experience, for only the walking traveler masters the road, and not the one studying the map.
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“The kingdom of God is within you”

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“Take the trouble to spend only one single day according to God’s commandments, and you will see yourself, you will feel by your own heart, how good it is to fulfill God’s will (and God’s will in relation to us is our life, our eternal blessedness). Love God with all your heart at least as much as you love your father, your mother, and your benefactors; value with all your strength His love and His benefits to you (go over them mentally in your heart, think how He gave you existence and with it all good things, how endlessly long He bears with your sins, how endlessly He forgives you them; for the sake of your hearty repentance, by virtue of the suffering and death upon the Cross of His only-begotten Son, what blessedness He has promised you in eternity, if you are faithful to Him); enumerate besides His mercies, which are endlessly great and manifold. Furthermore, love every man as yourself—that is, do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself; think, feel for him just as you would think and feel for your own self; do not wish to see in him anything that you do not wish to see in yourself; do not let your memory keep in it any evil caused to you by others, in the same way as you would wish that the evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others; do not intentionally imagine either in yourself or in another anything guilty or impure; believe others to be as well-intentioned as yourself, in general, if you do not see clearly that they are evilly disposed; do unto them as you would to yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself, and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart—what peace, what blessedness! You will be in paradise before reaching it–that is, before the paradise in heaven you will be in the paradise on earth. “The kingdom of God is within you,” says the Lord. “He that dwelleth in love,” teaches the Apostle, “dwelleth in God and God in him.”

Saint John of Kronstadt

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