Sunday, July 30, 2006

Arise, O Christians, Arise!

More than 54 civilians, at least 34 of them children, have been killed in a town in south Lebanon in the deadliest Israeli strike of the conflict so far.

Displaced families had been sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana, which was crushed after a direct hit.

- BBC News, 30th July, 14:33 GMT

Today Lebanon falls silent. There is no warmth left in the sun.

The darkness is deepening.

There will be a time to grieve, but it is not now. War is here; the enemy is on their doorstep. The international community refuses to help. Where are Lebanon's armies?

They still have friends. They are not alone in this fight.

There is a task now to be done. Another opportunity for Christians to prove their great worth.

Now is the hour!

Out of the dark, out of doubt, to the day's rising!

Arise, arise soldiers of Christ! Faith will be shaken, hopes shall be crushed!

A day may come when the faith of men fail, when we forsake our humanity and lose all semblance of compassion - but it is not this day! An hour of woes and broken hearts, when the last vestiges of faith are vanquished, but it is not this day. This day we fight!

We cannot achieve victory through strength of arms.

We must use the Weapons of Heaven, particularly the prayers to the Most Holy Mother of God, to assist our Christian brethren in their liberation from the Zionist oppression. Let us bombard Heaven with requests for help for the survival of the Lebanese people and for the continued existence of Christianity in the Middle East.

Forth, and fear no darkness!

- inspired by Francis' call to prayer

I do not believe this darkness will endure.

From the ashes, a fire will be woken. A light from the darkness shall spring. Renewed shall be the realm that was broken.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Truth about English

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

James Nicoll

or paraphrased, in "modern" English:
English doesn't borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Something that brings a smile

Received this SMS text message from a Russian girl yesterday:

I'll come to church directly from work and I do not have scarf, is there anything in the church I can wear?

Ah, questions like that brighten up one's day.

Local Voices

This tragedy unfolding in the Levant has inspired some here to compose:

Lord, who didst drive out the demons into the herd of swine - deliver from the company of our Maronite brethren the unbelievers and the Saracens.
Prayer written by Michael

Upon the land of cedars we humbly pray,
Her protecting veil may the Holy Virgin display,
God confound the wicked plan of the Jews,
May we never like them evil choose.
Composed by Edward

Your God, Not Mine

A whirlwind from Galilee has ravaged the land of cedars for about two weeks now. It shows no sign of relenting just yet. The death toll among the Lebanese has passed 390, with over 1440 wounded and over a million left homeless.

Lebanon is teetering on the brink of anarchy.

Yet, Israel continues wreaking death and devastation on a helpless people – with the blessing and of thousands of Christian Zionists worldwide.

Last night, I had the chance to take a look again into the mind of an avowed Christian Zionist when a member from my former church picked a bone with me over the Internet.

His name is Clement Low, aged 18 years and studies Mechanical Engineering at Singapore Polytechnic. He adheres to the Calvinist school of theology, but doesn’t know anything (or care) about the person of John Calvin.

An excerpt from our discourse:

Clement: ah you fail to understand
Clement: why they are killed.
Clement: it’s not who’s killed that matters.
Clement: it’s who’s provoked.
Clement: Israel is God’s chosen nation.
Clement: That’s the sole reason why you see in all cases Palestinian casualties are four times of Israeli casualties.
Me: Sole reason? *spit spit*
Clement: ah you have just spat on God
Clement: because you forget,
Clement: everything that happens is predestinated
Me: Aren’t we forgetting the powerful American Jewish lobby?
Clement: If it happens, it’s God’s plan that it does.
Me: Aren’t we forgetting the HUGE American aid to Israel?
Clement: we’re not talking about the huge American aid.
Clement: we’re talking about the ENORMOUS God aid.
Clement: and this in fulfilment of revelations

I am not anti-Jewish – but Clement, like many Christian Zionists, are colourblind – they see the world only in black and white. Hence, if I do not stand for Israel, then I must be a Hezbollah supporter. It is illogical and therefore impossible for me to be on the side of the innocent people who have, unfortunately, been bearing the brunt of Israeli and Hezbollah atrocity.

One wonders if these so-called “Christians” care about what is happening to our Christian brethren in the Levant (Lebanon’s population consists of a large Christian minority – 35%), who have been needlessly punished by Israeli air strikes, taking many a loved one away and leaving them with no electricity, sanitation or food.

Let us continue examining the mind of a Christian Zionist.

Clement: Killing in the Bible is condoned, under the act of war, under the act of self-defence.
Me: War? Lebanon isn’t at war!
Clement: oh but I do remember seeing a headline on my way out to school saying Israel declares war!

Not only are they devoid of compassion, they can’t get their facts right – maybe that’s how they can completely miss the plight of innocent Lebanese people. Israel has not met any resistance at all from the Lebanese armed forces. What does that tell you about Israel's actions?

Clement: I wouldn’t call it murder.

“Collateral damage”, perhaps?

Clement: the Jews are still the people of God. Like it or not, Christian or not.

I’m sorry, but being God’s chosen people is no excuse to launch punitive air strikes against a sovereign state because of two kidnapped soldiers that the state had nothing to do with. Somewhat like being your parents’ favourite child doesn’t warrant you the right to burn your brother’s room just because he stole your girlfriend.

Clement: Are you one who would wish to see Israel wiped off the face of the earth, or one who would see Israel survive? You cannot deny the hand of God in protecting Israel. Everything that has happened in various wars… clearly had the hand of God in it.

Like I said, the world is not so simple – not agreeing with Israel’s actions does not mean supporting Hezbollah and vice versa. The hand of God saved them so that their pride and sin might increase, making their final damnation and punishment the greater.

“WHEN I gather the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL from the NATIONS where they have been SCATTERED, I will show MYSELF HOLY among them in the sight of the nations. They will live in their OWN LAND, which I GAVE TO MY SERVANT JACOB. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards: they will live in safety WHEN I INFLICT PUNISHMENT ON THEIR NEIGHBOURS WHO MALIGNED THEM. THEN THEY WILL KNOW THAT I AM THEIR GOD.”

So goes Ezekiel 28:25-26, a favourite Biblical verse to justify Israel’s actions. However, let us remember that Christian Zionists, like most evangelical Protestants, never read the Bible in context. Reading Ezekiel 12 and many other passages in the Scripture, one will find out that every promise of land in the Old Testament was CONDITIONAL on Israel fulfilling her side of the covenant. The Jews may have their homeland, but they will never have peace until that is accomplished.

Christian Zionism is a horrid and dreadful heresy.

There is nothing Christian about "Christian" Zionism. It has done more damage (through American neocons) in the Middle East than anything else. Evangelical Christian Zionism as we know it – Dispensationalism, Messianic Judaism, chiliasm (or millenarianism), the Rapture, etc – has nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever.

Christian Zionism is a natural byproduct of Calvinism, in its love for tribalism, election, racism and so-called “divine” violence. The Christian Zionist envies the aggression of the current Israeli state and wishes for the moral constraints of the New Testament were removed from him – as they are so often auto-removed in any event (see American foreign policy). Throw in Messianic Judaism, the endless fascination with the end of days and the “Rapture” – which are all tied to the Middle East – and our current predicament comes off as no surprise.

Leaving fundamentalist Presbyterianism gave made me realise I no longer have any grand theological need to support Israel. Ask other converts; they will tell you the same thing. Are we anti-Israel? Do we wish to see Israel "wiped off the map"? No, we do not. We are more mature than that.

Clement: I’m sure Israel gave ample warning.
Clement: Every life is precious.
Clement: well, you're looking at who got killed, rather than whose fault it really was.
Clement: Lebanon was asking for it.

He went on to speak of how Israel was provoked into doing the “Lord’s work”, but I won’t show it here – I’m sure my readers have heard it often enough.

No, Clement, it is not “God” who wills the death and destruction of Lebanon. It is yours, not mine. Yours is a god who is bereft of love and compassion. Yours is a god who shows no mercy to the weak. Yours is a god who will bring about the end of days. In short, yours is a pagan god who demands sacrifice.

Love… does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-9

As you have just witnessed, there is nothing new about Christian Zionism. They remain as pigheaded, stubborn, cruel and vicious as they were 40 years ago. Any Israeli will tell you these ignorant, “born-again” goy bozos are the best friends the self-styled state of Israel ever had. Let these heretics run hand in hand with them. I say: VIVE CHRISTUS REX!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Classicist's Lament

Loving Olesya feels like Tantalus' punishment in Hades.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Beirut - Then & Now



Saturday, July 22, 2006

Icons the eyes of the faithful

A short video I made for Art History class, about icons and how various Christians see them.

For this documentary (of sorts), I interviewed a large number of people, ranging from Roman Catholics to Eastern Orthodox to the Copts (basically, anyone who uses imagery in worship and prayer).

Also included in the video is His Grace Bishop Daniel of Sydney, several SSPX parishioners and an Opus Dei priest.

Alternatively, if one prefers to see a larger version, one may do so here. If you do - remember to give a rating!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Random Quizzes

Your World View

You are a moralist with conventional ideas, which some people would call old-fashioned.
You probably think that most of the world falls badly below your standards.
Your inhibitions and sense of guilt are in the way of your happiness.

You think that people tend to use sex for evil, as a weapon.
Your parents probably played a big part in the formation of such a guilt complex as yours.
Your mind is in chains, and it's time you did something to free it.

You Are Elektra

There's really no superhero with more style than you.
Because who could beat being sexy assasin ninja?

Your Brain is 60% Female, 40% Male

Your brain is a healthy mix of male and female
You are both sensitive and savvy
Rational and reasonable, you tend to keep level headed
But you also tend to wear your heart on your sleeve

You Are a Auditory Learner

You tend to remember what you hear, and you have a knack for speaking well.
You excel at debating, foreign languages, and music.
You would be an excellent diplomat - or rock star!

You Are Duck

Exotic and unusual, you are a bit of a rare bird - literally.
You're known for being soft and succulent, though at times you can be a bit greasy.

You Should Honeymoon in Europe!

You are a traditional romantic at heart...
With a taste for fine wine, muesums and beautiful walks.
You and your sweetie should get romantic in a cafe in Paris
Or get a Eurail pass - and see as many cities as possible!

Suggested destinations: Paris, Venice, London, Greece

You Know It's Bad When...

Popular Arabic pop singer Nancy Ajram's most well-known and comprehensive fan site cannot be updated because of the events unfolding in the Levant.

Nancy (who is Lebanese) herself is very sad and has postponed her concerts indefinitely; she does not feel like singing while destruction ravages her country.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Some Random Thoughts

Had I not grown a brain and left my fundamentalist Bible-Presbyterian church for Orthodoxy, I would have condoned Israel's actions in the Lebanon today.

While growing up, I was taught (i.e. indoctrinated) that the Jews were God's chosen people (this I do not dispute) and Israel is fulfilling her destiny as laid out in the Bible. I was told that God Himself wills that the borders of Israel stretch from the Mediterranean Sea to the Arabian Desert, from the Red Sea to the Euphrates River (as it was in King Solomon's day). I was told how Israel's sometimes ruthless actions were always provoked by Muslims. I was told how Israel defeated the world in a series of wars (at 6 years of age, the world seemed to be made up of 8 countries) and that she will always be victorious because the Jews are God's chosen people.

I was told nothing of the immense American aid to Israel. I was told nothing of the powerful international Jewish lobby. I was told nothing of the scores of Christians living under the Zionist yoke and in neighbouring countries.

To my young, infantile mind, the Jews were the "good guys" and that the Arabs, the spawn of Ishmael, were the "villains". It does not shock me if many Protestants today still hold on to this overly-simplistic and immature worldview.

Hardly surprising, since the majority of Protestants (liberal and fundamentalist alike) have proven themselves again and again to be highly adept at selective reading as well as being grandmasters at logical fallacies, as Kenny has shown us some days ago.

It has been about a decade since I believed the Christian Zionist nonsense that my former church propagated. When, at the age of 14, I discovered Orthodoxy and began challenging many viewpoints held by Fundamentalist Protestants (political as well as theological), I realised that many of those stemmed from ignorance and a stunning unwillingness to learn.

To them, all Arabs are Muslim and therefore, warlike and wish the destruction of the Jewish state. Ergo, should Israel launch any strike on Arab land, it's only because the Arabs asked for it. I'm not making any of this up - in a recent conversation (argument, more like) with a ardent and devout member of my former church, he displayed a total disregard of human life ("they attacked first, they deserve the retribution") as well as an uncompromising support for Zionism, because God wills it. Amazing that he can also condemn the Roman Catholic Church for her Crusades during the same conversation. Now, this may be just be one person's view, but I assure readers that in all my 15 years spent in this church, I have learnt that the view doesn't differ very much from member to member.

We can only hope that the recent events will open their eyes to the death and destruction Israel has brought (and is bringing) to its poor neighbour. However, the chances of that are very slim. As for me, I am incredibly thankful for being liberated from the oppressive ignorance and stupidity of fundamentalist Protestantism.

2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict

I am sure there is no need for me to convince readers that what is happening in the Levant right now is very important and will have far-reaching consequences, regardless of how it unfolds.

The Lebanese government has so far seemed unwilling or unable (unable seems to be the more likely) to aid Israel in destroying Hezbollah strongholds in the south of its country. Israel holds all Lebanon responsible for Hezbollah's actions and may send in ground forces - though I fail to see why so many innocent civillians, Christian or Muslim, should pay the price for Hezbollah's selfish actions.

One cannot help but feel sorry for Lebanon and I weep for the country. She is a country under hostage - Iran and Syria have used, and are using, this beautiful country to strike at Israel. One wonders why the Lebanese people do not ask why Syria, which claims the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is not fighting a direct war with Israel but always uses Lebanon as a proxy to pursue its agenda. Lebanon lies in ruins while Syria and Iran remain unscathed (I have no desire to see either country ravaged, in any case).

Lord, grant us peace in our time, and preserve the holy places!

Our Lady of Lebanon, pray unto God for us!

[image via Edward]

The Paelstinian groups have succeeded!

They have brought a terrorist group to power.
They have pushed back any chance of a Palestinian state.
They have brought destruction to their people.
They have managed to drag Lebanon into this crisis.

Do they not want a future???

- from the BBC News Forums

Monday, July 17, 2006

88th Anniversary of the Holy Martyrdom of the Imperial Royal Martyrs of Russia

+ In Loving Commemoration of the Holy Martyrdom of

Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, Tsarevich Aleksey, Grand Duchess Olga, Grand Duchess Tatiana, Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duchess Anastasia


their devoted friends who perished with them: Dr Eugene Botkin, Anna Demindova, Alexei Trupp and Ivan Karinotov.

Martyred on July 4th (New Calendar), July 17th (Old Calendar), 1918

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Basayev is Dead!

The most wanted Chechen rebel warlord, Shamil Basayev, has died in an explosion - BBC News

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. He claimed to have fought for a noble cause, but targeting innocent children was an act both barbaric and despicable. One may emphatise with Chechenya's desire for independence, and with the Russian need to maintain the status quo.

However, Basayev's past actions have become self-defeating, because the first thing that comes to mind about this conflict isn't Chechenya's freedom but the unforgettable, barbaric and inexcusable murder of those children in Beslan.

Oddly enough, there are many Westerners who see him as a national hero and martyr. In that case, then the IRA are freedom fighters, Hamas the better alternative for Palestine's government, Osama bin Laden is the light of reason in this dark world and I'm the Queen of England.

The pro-rebel website have hailed him a martyr, yet claimed that it was accident that killed him, not Russian FSB agents. How typically ridiculous of fanatics.

How can you be a martyr if your own weapons *ahem* ACCIDENTALLY kill you? I don't see anybody hailing Urban, the apostate who made the monstrous cannon (that blew up and killed him) for the Turkish assault on Constantinople in 1453, a martyr.

He will always be remembered as a despicable villain and a mass murderer by all whose reasoning and logic have not shrouded by religious fanaticism:

October 2005: Scores killed in attack on Nalchik

September 2004: Gunmen seized school in Beslan, 331 deaths (many children)

August 2004: Suicide bombers destroy two airliners leaving Moscow, 89 deaths

August 2004: Suicide bomber kills 10 outside Moscow metro

October 2002: Moscow theatre seized, 129 hostages die

June 1995: Hospital seized in Budyonnovsk, 100 deaths

Goodbye Shamil Basayev; you won't be missed.

Dinner at Norman's

After two weeks of delay, the dinner at Norman's place finally happened! Except for one tiny detail - it wasn't dinner. It was a late lunch - since there was plans for the evening. It went perfectly well (except having to pick out bits of rotten sausage from the stew, maybe). As all good parties go, we were all drunk by the end of it.

The cooking began with frying onions for the duck pasta.

We struggled with the jar of hoisin sauce - passing through all 4 pairs of hands before it was overpowered by a combination of wit and brute strength.

The hoisin sauce joins the onions and garlic in the wok.

Spaghetti's ready; bowls of Romanian tomato salad courtesy of yours truly.

The duck sauce goes on the pasta.

Sparkling water to go with the duck pasta.

Bigos (Polish hunter's stew) formed the main course of the lunch/dinner.

Vodka was served to go with the stew, but it proved too strong for some of us.

I'd have taken more pictures after this, but apparently, the vodka (and subsequent drinks) carried my mind off into the realm of fantasy - and I forgot where I had left my camera.

You Reap What You Sow

Embraced by the leadership of all the mainline Protestant denominations, as well as large segments of American Catholicism, liberal Christianity has been hailed by its boosters for 40 years as the future of the Christian church.

Instead, as all but a few die-hards now admit, all the mainline churches and movements within churches that have blurred doctrine and softened moral precepts are demographically declining and, in the case of the Episcopal Church, disintegrating.

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

So this is the liberal Christianity that was supposed to be the Christianity of the future: disarray, schism, rapidly falling numbers of adherents, a collapse of Christology and national meetings that rival those of the Modern Language Assn. for their potential for cheap laughs. And they keep telling the Catholic Church that it had better get with the liberal program — ordain women, bless gay unions and so forth — or die. Sure.

[from the Dunker Journal]

Monday, July 10, 2006

Disaster in Russia

Nearly 150, including many children, are feared dead after a Russian airliner crashed in Siberia.

We pray for our Russian brothers and sisters that they may be delivered from this trial. May the infinte mercy of God be shown.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Dream

It's happened again.

For the third time in less than six months.

I dreamt I was in Moscow.

It was a most wonderful dream. I was zooming past the streets of central Moscow, drinking in the sights as if they were a sweet wine. It was incredible. I laughed and laughed, never feeling so happy in my life.

And then I woke up.

What You Get Out of Church

In our age of narcissistic individualism, we hear people say they "don't get anything out of going to church". What one "gets out of it" is the inestimable privilege of glorifying almighty God.

Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ

You Not Say Ukraine Weak!

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

Here's some food for thought:

The oldest priest in ROCOR is Fr Elias Wen, who's Chinese.

The oldest bishop under the Moscow Patriarch is Bishop Nicholas Sayama, a Japanese.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fun with Latin

Contrary to popular belief, learning Latin can be fun - especially when you have classmates (and teacher) who spice up translation sessions with nonsense interpretation. From today's class:

homo insanus est ('he is a madman')
became 'he is a crazy gay' in English.

aurum in fano tuo situm est ('the gold is placed in the shrine')
was jokingly translated as 'the gold is shitted in your fanny'.

I'd say we've earned ourselves a place at ICEL with that sort of translation.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What do I love when I love Thee?

But what do I love when I love Thee? ...I love a kind of light, and melody, and fragrance, and meat, and embracement when I love my God, the light, melody, fragrance, meat, embracement of my inner man: where there shineth into my soul what space cannot contain, and there soundeth what time beareth not away, and there smelleth what breathing disperseth not, and there tasteth what eating diminisheth not, and there clingeth what satiety divorceth not. This is it which I love when I love my God.

The Confessions of St Augustine, circa 397 AD