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Messages - J. Thomas Shelley

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Your Turn / Re: St. Andrew: Lighting the way for Advent
« on: Today at 09:48:11 AM »
Bump for the Eve of St. Andrew's Day, A.D. 2021.

Bright sunshine Sunday morning revealed that the beam was, to use the Groucho Marx phrase, "close but no cigar".    And I confess:  Having had a wonderful but long day in the parish with Liturgy followed by choir rehearsal followed by the first youth activity in 18 months, a slept through today's cloudless dawn.

Tomorrow, St. Andrew's Day, is forecast to begin with another in a series of "Alberta Clippers" that have grazed south central Pennsylvania.   Yesterday's brought a dusting of snow on some roofs (we had heavy frosts last week that had left more whiteness) and tomorrow's is predicted to be similar.  But irrespective:  An overcast beginning.

Your Turn / Re: Changing Lifestyles Of American Adults
« on: Yesterday at 02:51:28 PM »
I am surprised that the cohabiting statistics are so low.

But they more than doubled:   A 125% increase.

Your Turn / Fear Is Deadlier Than Viruses
« on: November 23, 2021, 04:19:59 PM »


The most famous words of Franklin Roosevelt, America's longest-serving president, were, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

One wonders if any world leader would or could say that today. We live in the Age of Fear.

All of my life, I thought love and hate were the two most powerful human emotions.

But owing to recent events, I have changed my mind.

I now understand that for most people, fear is the strongest emotion.

In fact, I've come to realize that it is possible to get people to do anything if you instill enough fear in them. Specifically, irrational fear.

Fear of COVID-19, for example, is rational. But media and governments induced irrational fears. That's why millions of healthy people stayed indoors for a year or more, why a vast number of people wore masks while walking or sitting alone outdoors, and why so many parents did not allow their young children to play with other children for a year or more, even though the COVID-19 mortality rate among children was considerably less than the flu's mortality rate among children.

All of this was caused by irrational fear. It turns out that fear is not only more powerful than love and hate; in most people it is more powerful than reason. And when it is, it is far more destructive -- to the individual and to society -- than rational fear.

What is rational fear? When a soldier fears going into battle, that is rational. Soldiers cannot allow fear to control their behavior, but their fear is not irrational. If a mugger points a gun at you, it is rational to feel fear. If you are diagnosed with cancer, it is rational to experience fear.

Rational fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It is irrational fear that does the most harm -- to yourself, to others and to all of society.

The Salem witch trials of the 17th century exemplified irrational fear leading to evil: the killing of women who were believed to be witches.

You would think that the Enlightenment of the 18th century, with its focus on reason and science, would have led to a great lessening of irrational fear.

It hasn't.

To cite a number of examples, an unknowable (but not small) number of Americans -- usually among the best educated -- prohibited their parents from seeing their grandchildren, either because the grandparents or the grandchildren were not vaccinated. They did this despite the fact that the number of young people infected with COVID-19 was close to zero and despite the fact that there were extremely few cases of children infecting adults. Sweden kept its schools open for all students under the age of 16 throughout the pandemic, and studies have since confirmed that the risk to Swedish teachers of infection by students was extremely low. Such is the power of irrational fear.

To take another contemporary example, many people have decided not to have children because they fear that a warming planet represents an "existential threat" to life. Now, it is rational to be concerned about climate change, but it is irrational not to have children because of it. And it gets even more irrational. Their parents often support this decision, despite their deep yearning to be grandparents.

Irrational fear is also a major source of hatred. People hate what they fear. It was Germans' irrational fear of Jews -- people who made up under 1% of the German population -- that led to the unique evil known as the Holocaust.

Given the awful power of fear, what can you do to be less fearful?

The first thing you must do is determine whether your fears are rational or irrational.

And that can only be accomplished by thoroughly studying the issue -- whatever it happens to be: global warming, a pandemic, racism or any other divisive subject.

For example, black people are told to fear white police because white police are racist and want to do them harm. This is largely an irrational fear. It is well-documented that in any given recent year, the number of unarmed black Americans killed by police is under 20 -- nearly all of whom posed serious threats to the lives of the policemen who killed them.

Another example: Credible scientists and other experts who acknowledge that global warming is taking place, but contend that it is not an existential threat to life, are dismissed as "anti-science" and their views suppressed. Read them, and many of your fears will be allayed. (You might even decide to have children.)

Most fears are stoked by governments and their allies in mass media and in Big Tech, who in turn suppress contrary opinions. Therefore, please understand that when you hear only one opinion, and that opinion is designed to make you afraid, there is a good chance that your fears are irrational.

Determining whether your fears are rational or irrational is one of the most important things you will ever do. The quality of your life and the life of your society depend on your making that distinction.

Your Turn / Re: Fascinating black LCMS history at the Federalist
« on: November 22, 2021, 10:23:16 PM »

She loved her family, whose faith reflected their grounding in hers, heard in the solo offered by her great-great grandson, Averri LeMalle, II, and the words of her great-granddaughter, Kionna W. LeMalle, who shared Green’s last words: “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His Holy name."

Chysostoma!  AXIOS!

Gives me chills.

Your Turn / Re: Thoughts on Eucharist and Thanksgiving
« on: November 21, 2021, 12:27:12 AM »
Fasting should precede every Feast; which is why we  endure the rigors of Great Lent in preparation for the "Feast of feasts, Holy Day of Holy Days..." of Pascha and even now, to a lesser extent, in preparation for the Nativity.

Because the Feast of the Katherine the Great Martyr coincides with Thanksgiving Day my parish will keep that Feast by anticipation with a Vesperal Divine Liturgy on Thankgiving Eve; which means that most of that day should be kept as a preparatory Fast for receiving the Eucharist....definitely from Noon onward and ideally from several hours earlier.

St. Katherine is regarded as the protectress of Mt. Sinai.  The Monastery dedicated to her memory in Sinai has been the protector of the unconsumed bush seen by Moses; and cuttings from the plant have been distributed around the world.  One of those cuttings of a cutting of a cutting et cetera has been moved indoors by your truly for the winter for the second time.  Careful watering and cultivation preserved it through the winter of 2020-21 and I pray for similar results again, so that I will able to continue its propagation.

The "unburnt bush" is a phrase used in Orthodox hymnography to describe the inviolate virginity of the Theotokos Mary.  Ironically, the Feast of St. Katherine is also the apodosis (leavetaking) of the Great Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos in the Temple celebrated on November 21, which, blessedly, for the first time in 11 years falls on a Sunday.

The Troparion of that Great Feast speaks of the propagation of the Gospel throughout the the cuttings of the unburnt bush:

Today is the prelude of God's good pleasure,
and the proclamation of humanity's salvation.
In the temple of God, the Virgin is presented openly,
and in herself she announces Christ to all.
Let us, then, with a great voice cry aloud to her:
"Rejoice, you are the fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."

Your Turn / Re: Thanksgiving 'myth'?
« on: November 20, 2021, 10:43:33 PM »
It would not hurt my feelings one bit if we jettisoned the ahistorical Pilgrim mythology of Thanksgiving. The history of the European colonization of the Americas is an often shameful one, as well the US history. But there's value to having a holiday for pausing to be thankful and gathering as families.
I think the “myth” is less mythical than people think. There were initially some positive relationships between the colonists and natives. And even apart from that, the idea of giving thanks for 1st Article gifts makes perfect sense.

Thanksgiving  should  be a day for remembering how the Plymouth colony's starvation was exacerbated by their failed experiment of communalism.  [I chose that final word very deliberately, although other "isms" came to mind].  Abundance returned when each family became directly responsible for their own harvest.

Your Turn / Re: Lessons and Carols
« on: November 20, 2021, 04:19:35 PM »
The Book of Occasional Services published by The Episcopal Church has a fine service of Lessons and Carols including the traditional Bidding Prayer.

Your Turn / Re: Christian response to Rittenhouse trial
« on: November 19, 2021, 10:52:50 PM »
A couple of observations:

1)  It seems apparent that PBp. Eaton had a statement prepared well in advance of the verdict.  That is the very essence of prejudice:  Pre-judging.

2)  It is  worth noting that both the home pages of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese contain no news releases or statements from their respective Archbishops at this time.   Indeed, both sites are dominated by scrolling links to articles about the Nativity Fast (already underway) and the upcoming Feast of the Entrance (Presentation) of the Theotokos.

At the risk of being snarky, it's hard to tell from the ELCA home page that Advent is at hand.

Your Turn / Re: Christian response to Rittenhouse trial
« on: November 19, 2021, 07:39:33 PM »

Yup, politicians who don't know what they're talking about, dissing our criminal justice system,  and needlessly inflaming the situation.

These are politicians who rule by decree aka Executive Order.

They diss more than our criminal justice system.

Your Turn / Thanksgivingtide, A.D. 2021
« on: November 19, 2021, 02:56:16 AM »
American Thanksgiving Day this year coincides with the 25th of November; the Feast of Catherine the Great Martyr on the Orthodox calendar and the Commemoration of the Hymnographer Isaac Watts on the LBW calendar.

Here is a little gem by Watt:

a paraphrase of Psalm 95

Isaac Watts

Come, sound his praise abroad
   And hymns of glory sing
Je-ho-vah is the sov’reign God,
   The un-i-ver-sal King.

He formed the deeps unknown;
   And gave the seas their bound;
The wat’ry world are all his alone
   And all the solid ground.

Come, worship at his throne
   Come, bow before the Lord;
We are his works, and not our own;
   He formed us by his word.

To-day attend his voice,
   Nor dare provoke his rod;
Come, like the people of his choice,
   And own your gracious God

Your Turn / Re: accidental overdose/suicide
« on: November 17, 2021, 04:02:04 PM »
Too many  olks' jobs were decreed "non-essential" by too many State Governors during the lockdowns of Spring 2020.

Telling ANYONE that they are disposable, expendable, and of little consequence because they are arbitrarily "non-essential" is crushing to their self esteem....and virtually ensures that few will want to enter a trade of profession with such an unstable and uncertain future.

The OD/suicide spike was much more avoidable than COVID exposure.

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: November 13, 2021, 11:58:17 PM »

The idea that those who’ve had the disease remain a threat to spread it seems to be purely on the level of assumption.

Yet others state that vaccinations are better against the virus than natural immunity.

From Johns Hopkins:

"Follow the gourd!"   "Follow the shoe"

Once again, Monty Python unravels the meaning of life.

Your Turn / Re: Could we be seeing a return to one-earner families?
« on: November 13, 2021, 11:31:58 PM »
A contributing factor may be the geometric increase in families home schooling, caused in part by greater awareness of public school curriculum through the many months of "remote learning" during the pandemic.

Also a shortage (and hence higher expense) for child care; those able to crunch numbers may have determined that the marginal net benefit of a second income was negligible.

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: November 10, 2021, 09:10:28 PM »

So how many gay people did you have as close friends? How many of your close friends got gravely ill? How many of your close friends died? How many funerals did you go to where the person had died of AIDS or complications resulting from AIDS? How many of your close friends still live today with the remnants of the terrors of those early days of AIDS?

My community learned fairly early on that AIDS was not exclusively "the gay disease" because one of its victims was UCC Pastor Elmo Beck, a hemophiliac who contracted the illness through tainted blood used in one of his many transfusions.

His death brought an awareness that unless the blood supply was strictly regulated anyone could be at risk, not just those engaging in certain sexual practices or using intravenous drugs.

Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: November 09, 2021, 09:16:45 PM »
I received my Moderna booster this morning (courtesy of the Norfolk County Sheriff's Office).

Anyone else get boosted yet?

Moderna booster yesterday afternoon.

Pfizer booster last week.

Between recovery from something that seemed like COVID a month before most of us had heard of COVID, recovery from a very mild possible case early last December, and two Moderna injections (allegedly each carrying 3x the mRNA "stuff" of Pfizer) I believe I am more than adequately protected already--booster totally unnecessary.

The only thing that might make me change my mind is if the Czars decree that boosters are required for "fully vaccinated" status.   Israel has already done so.

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