Friday, December 31, 2004

movie quote

from Napoleon Dynamite...

"What are you gonna do today, Napoleon?"

Whatever I feel like I'm gonna do! GOSH!"

Thursday, December 23, 2004

NY Times article

Received this article on the parish e-mail list from our priest.

A Sad New Carol: Go Ye From Bethlehem

December 23, 2004
By GREG MYRE



BETHLEHEM, West Bank, Dec. 20 - In the town where
Christians believe Christ was born, the Christians are
leaving.

Four years of violence, an economic free fall and the
Israeli separation barrier have all contributed to the
hardships facing Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem, one
of the largest concentrations of Christians in the region.

An estimated 3,000 Christians in the Bethlehem area have
moved abroad since the Palestinian uprising began in 2000,
according to Bernard Sabella, an associate professor of
sociology at Bethlehem University who has tracked the
issue. While some others put the number a bit lower, there
is a consensus that 10 percent or more of the Christian
population in Bethlehem and two adjoining towns has
departed.

The continuing exodus has left Christians accounting for
only about 21,500 of the 60,000 Palestinian residents in
the area, or about 35 percent, according to Mr. Sabella.
"Christians all over the world need to know this reality,"
said Hanna Nasser, a Christian who is the mayor of
Bethlehem. "If there is not a breakthrough in the peace
process, this trend will continue. Imagine the town of
Bethlehem without Christians."

Bethlehem's central square should be packed for Christmas
celebrations, but the tourists and pilgrims stopped coming
when the fighting began.

"For four years there has been no business, no way to earn
a living," said Saleh Michel, 88, a Catholic.

For decades Mr. Michel ran a recession-proof family
business. His musty souvenir shop, the Bethlehem Oriental
Store, is less than 10 paces from one of Christendom's most
important shrines, the Church of the Nativity, built on the
site where tradition holds that Jesus was born.

Yet Mr. Michel rarely opens these days, and one of his
adult sons has moved to Italy. "I asked him to stay," Mr.
Michel recalled. "He said, 'Then feed me.' He had no choice
but to leave and find work elsewhere."

The gloom stands in stark contrast to the mood five years
ago. Back then, the stone square outside the Church of the
Nativity was overflowing with tourists for Christmas and
New Year's celebrations. Palestinians were talking up the
possibility of statehood in 2000. Pope John Paul II visited
in March 2000, helping to fuel a surge in visitors. New
hotels were rising to accommodate the crowds.

"We all had high hopes," said Fayez Khano, 58, who carves
olive wood souvenirs in a workshop dusted with flakes of
blond wood.

But today Mr. Khano, a father of three, has a son and a
daughter in Dublin, and another daughter who is about to
move to the United States.

"We depend on our kids to send us money," said Mr. Khano,
who along with his brother has been crafting Jesus figures
and manger scenes at his shop for a quarter-century. "I
want to stay, because I was born here, but my wife is
pushing me to leave. If the situation continues I will have
to consider it."

Arab Christians have been a relatively prosperous minority
within Israel and the West Bank, generally well educated
and middle class. Many have the advantage of having
relatives or other connections abroad, enabling them to
move with ease to the United States, Europe or Latin
America.

The Christian emigrants tend to be quite successful and
rarely look back. In one striking example, the two main
candidates in El Salvador's presidential election in March,
the winner, Tony Saca, and the runner-up, Schafik Handal,
were both descendants of Catholic Arab families that came
from here.

Bethlehem was more than 90 percent Christian until the
middle of the last century. Then the Arab-Israeli war of
1948, begun by Arab states in response to the founding of
Israel, brought an influx of Muslim refugees to the
Bethlehem area and signaled the start of a demographic
shift. But what began as a steady emigration of Christians
accelerated into a relative flood with the onset of
violence four years ago.

The Christians, most of them Greek Orthodox or Catholic,
have not been directly involved in the fighting but have
suffered the consequences.

In the early days of the uprising, Muslim gunmen in the
Bethlehem area took hilltop positions in Beit Jala, which
is predominantly Christian. That afforded them a clear
firing line at the southernmost part of Jerusalem. When the
Israeli military responded, Beit Jala residents found
themselves on the front lines of the conflict, and
occasionally among its casualties.

In addition, Israel's separation barrier, a network of
concrete walls and electronic fences, is a hulking presence
on the edges of Bethlehem, isolating the town from
Jerusalem and further choking off the economy and driving
people away.

Trying to stem the outflow of Christians, the Rev. Amjad
Sabarra, the Catholic pastor of Bethlehem, has begun a job
program for young men. In the past year more than 400
Bethlehem residents have received at least some part-time
work, mostly in housing restoration.

Father Sabarra is also working with recent university
graduates, finding them internships and counseling them on
the historic role of Christians in the Holy Land.

"I used to have one person working in my office," he said,
laughing. "Now I have 20."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

bright as yellow

And you live life with your arms reached out.
Eye to eye when speaking.
Enter rooms with great joy shouts,
happy to be meeting.

And bright,
bright,
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.

And I do not want to be a rose.
I do not wish to be pale pink,
but flower scarlet, flower gold.
And have no thorns to distance me,

but be bright,
bright,
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.

Even if I’m shining, even if I’m shining here inside.
Even if I’m shouting, do you see that I’m wanting,
that I want to be so

bright,
bright,
bright as yellow,
warm as yellow.

-the innocence mission

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Duplex

When I moved in here my neighbor was an elderly gentleman and his bird, or so I was told by my landlord. It turns out that it's them, plus his daughter, plus her daughter, plus her teenage son. Then he told me he moved down the street because it was getting "too crowded". That's not counting all the high school kids that come over to drink beer and smoke... Also, I think the place must have been converted to a duplex, because the walls are thinner than an apartment, it's like a scene from Office Space. "Dude, check out channel 9!"

Sunday, December 12, 2004

more thoughts

I was thinking more about last night, and things Father Jonah said, and then things Father Christopher said in the homily this morning. It is awesome to meet people so full of the love of Christ, and joy that it radiates and touches everything around them. Father Jonah talked about a lot of things, including the vision of the monastery's ministry, and was just lit up. He said not everyone is called to the same things in life, for example sell all you have and give it to the poor, but everyone is called to love, living the Gospel is love. He told of asking the abott of a large monastery on Mt Athos what he should do for his brotherhood, as abott, and the other abott ansewered "love them". Father Christopher spoke to today of something in "The Veil", what do we go to church for? Music, food, fellowship, family? Hopefully our answer is Christ. Hearing the Gospel reading this morning, the parable of the banquet feast, it touched me because I was so tired after yesterday, and I slept and hour after my alarm went off, got there just in time for the start of Liturgy, and then this is the reading today. I'm glad I made myself go. I'm glad I was able to move things around and be there last night for the monks. That kind of love of Christ is amazing, and I hope I can be filled with that same love of Christ and joy that lights everything.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

tired and full of thoughts

Pardon my mumblings, it's been a VERY long day. I just got home from Vespers. Father Jonah and Father Dimitri were here from the Monastery of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco. Father Jonah served Vespers, and Father Christopher directed the choir. It is very exciting for us up here to look forward to the monastery moving here. Escrow closes in a couple of weeks, God willing. It was a beautiful night. I really enjoyed meeting them, and listening to what Father Jonah had to say, and look at the pictures of the land. A lot of what he said really struck me, especially "there is no Christianity without asceticism, there is no Christianity without self-denial, there is no Christianity without the Cross." I should be off the computer and going to sleep now, but here I am. I was able to switch shifts with someone to be free for Vespers tonight. I've been up since 4:45 this morning(last time I was up that early I hadn't gone to bed yet...). I did my first day shift at my current job. It went by really fast, course I was pumped full of french pressed coffee and running around like crazy. It was great, not to be repeated any time soon. I got a Christmas tree last night. A 6 foot Douglas Fir for $20 at Home Depot. I brought it home in the back of my truck, carried it down to the house by myself, laid it on the porch and sawed through the trunk with a bow-saw, and set it up in the stand, all in the pouring rain. Can't call me completely helpless. :) I love the pouring rain! It wonderful to get wet and do stuff in the rain! I also got 4 bags of tube sand to weight the back of the truck, don't want a repeat of last year's ice skating on the freeway incident, thank you very much. I have jury duty on Monday, have to be at the Superior court at 0930 (ugh). I'm taking a big book with me, The Life of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos from Holy Apostles Convent in Colorado. Will also take some knitting, if they let me bring the wooden knitting needles it, I'm guessing maybe not. I have some very good friends on my mind and heart, I'm worried about them. They've moved, the nearest Orthodox Church is an hour away, but it's OCA, and last time we talked they said they aren't going to go to an OCA church because "Patriarch Alexi is communist/KGB and the Apostolic succession of the Bishops in Russia was broken...", so they want to drive 2.5 hours to the Portland area to go to a ROCOR church. I pray God will give them wisdom and guidance and clarity in making the right decision for the right reasons.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

needling my way through

After a long time of talking about it, I'm finally learning to knit (just barely)! I got a starter kit from Barnes and Noble. It turns out that I can follow the illustrations (sort-of), and it doesn't matter that I'm left-handed. I also discovered a friend at church knits, so I will have someone to ask questions. Woo hoo!

Divine Medicine

We are reading St John Chrysostom’s On Wealth and Poverty for the mission’s book club. It’s a collection of his sermons on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
In the second sermon, he makes a very profound statement (well, it’s all really profound)… “Rather, if we are to tell the truth, the rich man in not the one who has collected many possessions but the one who needs few possessions; and the poor man is not the one who has no possessions but the one who has many desires.” One of the many thoughts I had after this was of the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He goes on…”So if you see someone greedy for many things, you should consider him the poorest of all, even if he has acquired everyone’s money. If, on the other hand, you see someone with few needs, you should count him the richest of all, even if he has acquired nothing.”
There’s much in it that’s challenging to the “American way” of life. Basically, use just what you need to live, give the rest to the poor. I could go on a rant, but I don't think I will. I've just got to work on it in myself.
I’ve started the third sermon, and St John takes a little break at the beginning to admonish his listeners to read the Scriptures. “…we need the divine medicines to heal the wounds which we have received and to protect us from those which we have not yet received but will receive. We must thoroughly quench the darts of the devil and beat them off by continual reading of the divine Scriptures. For it is not possible, not possible for anyone to be saved without continually taking advantage of spiritual reading. Actually, we must be content, if even with continual use of this therapy, we are barely able to be saved. But when we are struck every day, if we do not use any medical care, what hope do we have of salvation?”