Saturday, April 28, 2012

A note on Debt

Debt is a pretty good book, but one of the notions that rang false, very false, was his contention that other nations' purchases of America's debt are, essentially, tribute money. Here is an article discussing that. The book is quite good and is always thought-provoking, even if not infallible. That is all.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The unforgivable sin.

Lotar brought to mind the question of unforgivable sins in his most recent web-log post. That is to say, some numbnuts he knew suggested to somebody with a weakness for the ladies that he needs to decide which he would rather be, a Lothario or an Orthodox Christian. Lotar and I both think this is precisely wrong. This reminds me, however, of some sins that are seen, in some way, as unforgivable, in effect if not in fact, either in Orthodoxy or the world at large, whether or not people actually think of it.
  1. Sex. Here is my comment on his web-log article, mostly aimed at some styles of Protestant: If you make an ultimatum, great, they’re gone. Which would you really have somebody do: be a Lothario who still comes to church every Sunday, or be a Lothario who never comes to church again? I’d prefer the former, especially if he realizes that it’s wrong (it would be a little different if he were agitating for that lifestyle choice, but I’d still prefer it). I’d rather kick out the greedy people than the lustful.

    Further, you know, this is the sort of thing that drives a lot of people out of the church when they get to college (or earlier): they get a girlfriend, start having sex, and then stop attending church because they know that sex outside of marriage is wrong according to the church. Especially if they’re in some Protestant establishment that makes it the biggest sin, the one unforgivable offense. Once they’ve tasted the forbidden fruit, they’re forbidden to return (in their mind). And some people, like the aforementioned friend, explicitly make it the case! That is a horrible outcome and I don’t doubt that the priests (or pastors, in the Protestant case) are horrified by it, as it is explicitly not what they want.

  2. Being poor, unemployed, or criminal. Blessed are the poor, except when they're making your church look shabby. Fortunately, this mindset is an isolated one. I hope our nation is changing its mind about the acceptability of a criminal record, too, as increasing numbers of our politicians seem to be ending up in jail. Unfortunately, the banking sector seems not to have been hit very hard. They will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.
  3. Not being happy-clappy. There are many parts of the country where unhappiness is a sin and anything other than the "joy of Jesus" is a sure sign that you are not one of the elect. It may not be licit to be sad at a funeral, even. Showing up to church unhappy means something is wrong and it needs to be fixed. It is best not to show up if you don't want to be - or are incapable of being - "fixed". Orthodoxy seems to take the opposite point of view, fortunately, as smiling in the Old Country on any day other than Pascha or perhaps the Nativity is seen as a sign of simple-mindedness.
  4. Doubt. Or any sort of questioning. It is not permitted these days to have a "complicated" relationship with God. The only possible states you can be in are complete, undivided belief and utter rejection. This is, of course, silly. Having questions does not mean you no longer have faith, it means you have questions. Read the Psalms or the Book of Job if you want to see what that is like. But if modern man and sometimes even a church says that certain modes of relating to God mean that you're an unbeliever, well, it must be the case! Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do not go to church anymore, and certainly do not read a wide variety of discussions the saints of both the East and West had about the precise phenomenon you are currently experiencing which they experienced too on their way to becoming saints - and which they say was in no way meaning they were bad people incapable of being good Christians. I think rather it means you have more potential than the simple-minded, happy-clappy, non-doubting folks.
Quite fortunately, revered saints have dealt with all four of these, and in the case of 2, 3, and 4 they probably didn't struggle against them, they were the backdrop for their real struggles.

Some time in the next couple weeks I might write a little bit about burnout because I saw some converty type on some message board asking about it. The short answer to their problem is this: stop doing so much and just go to church - don't even listen to AFR.