The First Arabic Mass in Albuquerque

Flag of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Image created...
Flag of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Image created by uploader based on the previous bitmap image and other imgages found on the web. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are wonderfully unexpected sounds coming from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Byzantine Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The songs of the saints there are not in Latin or Spanish or English, but Arabic.

Due to the increasing persecution of Middle East Christians, 2000 year old communions in the Middle East are emptying of their members who are seeking a better life in the West. One positive consequence of this tragedy is that a revival of Maronite and other Orthodox branches of Arab Christianity in the United States is beginning. The Arab Christians are going into exile from their homeland and beginning to regroup in, of all places, Albuquerque. Continue reading “The First Arabic Mass in Albuquerque”

Lamentation for the death of a friend

 I have finished many things today

a book, a cup of coffee

but I have not

finished mourning you

 

I have completed the things I must

clocked out, gone home but yet

The things I’ve left unsaid, undone

in the presence of a tender friend

 

Are crowding all my thoughts

sowing grief

in memories of a man

whom the autumn of years had yet to set

on hair not yet fully gray

 

I have closed out the day

the door, my eyes

but I cannot close the casket

still open; still warm in feeling

still framed by flowers and weeping

 

You are free; moved on

but I cannot

 

only bare forward the measure of injustice

in worldly terms, pray for understanding

 

I picture you seated at a table full,

name card in front of you

Laughing where tears can not live

But where you will, forever more

 

You are gone

but memories are not

you have finished, here

but here I sit

remembering, mourning

believing the day will come

when we will take hands

with a hearty shake and a loud amen

Capitalism, the Straw Man

Many opponents of the current economic system of the United Sates are under the impression that it is laissez-faire capitalism; this is far from the truth. It is not truly capitalism and has not been for many decades. In fact, even in its purest form to date, the markets never reached true freedom in the United States. Over-regulation by bureaucrats who do not know anything about sustaining a profitable business has created a system that rewards failure and punishes success; the exact opposite of capitalism. The government is propping up failing companies and creating an economic atmosphere of higher taxes and inflation.  The central planning of the Federal Reserve, Congress and the Treasury Department keep the market from being truly free in any reasonable sense that Adam Smith, the author of The Wealth of Nations and founder of Capitalism, meant it to be. We are witnessing the folly of the world attempting to pass itself off as benevolent wisdom.

Competition is the key to Capitalism. Once you destroy the competitive aspects of the markets, they are no longer free. This competition is often described as greed, but the Capitalist system is not based on swindling; if customers are not treated well or products are shoddy, consumers will no longer trust the swindling company. Free markets foster incentives for people to behave honestly, thereby enjoying big profits from satisfied customers. If a company isn’t conducting good business it will fail. When the Government decides that certain companies are too big to fail or should win regardless of their failures, the competition dies and so do excellence and striving for success. Continue reading “Capitalism, the Straw Man”

A Bride Going

I stood amid the impassioned tumult

of rivers met and joined

in foam and roar

heading west, acquiring;

each lending its force to rush

downhill, to fulfill the course of its first collecting

 

Off, here and there small rivulet’s cast about to find their way

 

I watch beneath the breast-white moon

that reflects the greater light

yet in glory all its own

 

The stars draw their zodiac

and men cast their course

this midnight sky draws all thoughts

from earth to the celestial and bright unending, revealed

 

these many lights and small

one endless canvas illuminates the earth before the day

they demonstrate the sapphire thrown

 

these marvels all, float on

flow in joy, to meet

a calmer canopy, where storms shall cease

a purer sea, where all is peace

Just War Theory

Justifying war is almost always difficult.  It is not easy to weigh the intentions and facts in the sordid situations of international politics. Throughout history many philosophers have attempted to outline the just causes and proper means of fighting international disputes. In Western thought the development of these doctrines are marked out by Augustine and Aquinas, who were Christian philosophers and later the modern theory was developed by a Remonstrant Dutchman; Hugo Grotius (der Groot). Grotius was a scholastic and developed the modern view of the just war theory in the 16th -17th   centuries through his book; De jure belli ac pacis libri tres (On the Law of War and Peace: Three books). He outlined the parameters in determining the legality and behavior of just war.

There are two important philosophical principles used when discussing just war. Jus ad bellum means Justice of war and jus in bello means justice in war. Essentially, these terms refer to the two distinct but interconnected measures of the justness in war. The questions he sought to answer were whether going to war is ever justifiable (justice of war), and once engaged in war how should war be conducted in a humane way (justice in war).” Continue reading “Just War Theory”

How to Increase Through Decrease

The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.

Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease.  God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.

The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone  ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry. Continue reading “How to Increase Through Decrease”

Protestant Apologetics

Mainmast
Mainmast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The colors of our homeland fly atop the mainmast.

The black pennant, beneath

signaling no quarter given.

 

We’ve taken in fresh water,

a crop of limes,

we’re flush with powder and 24 pound shot.

 

A sail’s spotted on the horizon

the order’s been given to chase and beat to quarters.

 

We’re to our stations

to run out the guns

and watch

 

the distance to our prize

close rapidly

as the boatswain begins a tune

and we all join in.