By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Both Galaktion and Episteme were born in the city of Edessa, in Phoenicia. Galaktion's mother was barren until she was baptized. After her baptism, she converted her husband [Cleitophon] to the true Faith, baptized her son Galaktion, and raised him in the Christian Faith. When Galaktion was old enough to marry, his good mother, Leukippa, entered into rest, and his father betrothed him to a pagan-born maiden named Episteme. By no means did Galaktion want to enter into marriage, and convinced Episteme to be baptized, then to be tonsured a nun at the same time that he became a monk. Both of them withdrew to Mount Publion (near Mount Sinai) - Galaktion to a monastery and Episteme to a convent. They proved to be shining lights in their monasteries. They were first in labor, first in prayer, first in humility and obedience, and first in love. They neither left their monasteries nor did they see one another until just before their death. A fierce persecution began and both of them were brought before the tribunal (in Alexandria). When the pagans mercilessly whipped Galaktion, Episteme wept. Then they whipped her. After that, they cut off their hands, their feet and then their heads. Their friend Eutolmios took their bodies and honorably buried them. Eutolmios had been a slave of Episteme's parents, and then a monk with Galaktion. He also wrote the life of these wonderful martyrs of Christ who suffered and received their wreaths in heaven in the year 253.
The Spiritual Love of the Saints
Physical love, in comparison to spiritual love, is less than a shadow is to solid substance. Brotherhood and sisterhood of the blood and body is nothing compared to the brotherhood and sisterhood of the spirit. Galaktion's father betrothed him to the maiden Episteme. Galaktion baptized Episteme and, after that, both received the monastic tonsure. Their physical love was replaced by spiritual love, a love as strong as death. So great was Galaktion's spiritual love for Episteme that he never desired to see her with his physical eyes. Neither physical contact nor closeness are necessary for spiritual love. So great was Episteme's spiritual love for Galaktion that when she heard that he had been taken for torture she ran after him, begging him not to reject her, but to receive her as a fellow sufferer, as he was her spiritual father and brother. When the merciless torturers flogged holy Galaktion's naked body, holy Episteme wept. However, when the torturers cut off their hands and feet for Christ, both rejoiced and glorified God. So great was the power of their love for our Lord Jesus Christ, and so great was the spiritual love with which they loved each other. Truly, physical love is like a colorful butterfly that quickly passes, but spiritual love is enduring.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Venerable Martyrs Galaktion and Episteme
Galaktion, and Episteme with him,
Abandoned the world of passing smoke,
Crucified the passions of the body,
And ascended to heaven in spirit.
Their hearts remembered Christ with every beat,
And were crucified with love for Him.
Then the tormentors arrived.
Galaktion went to his torture,
And Episteme hurried after:
"Slower, Brother," she said, "do not hurry!
I was baptized by your hand,
Now take me with you to torture!
Even though I am unworthy, Brother,
I am willing to die for my Christ."
Galaktion, and Episteme with him,
Proclaimed Christ to the unbelievers,
And in bitter tortures they breathed their last.
They gave their souls to Christ:
Now they live with angels in Paradise -
Galaktion and Episteme.
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons' strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
The Martyrs of Christ, received you in their companies, who through mighty trials contested most resplendently; O renowned Galaktion and thy hallowed spouse and co-sufferer, Episteme, ye both entreat the one God and Lord in behalf of us all.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
Thursday, November 3, 2011
By Photios Kontoglou
On Pascha [Easter] Monday, in the evening after midnight, before lying down to sleep, I went out into the little garden behind my house. The sky was dark and covered with stars. I seemed to see it for the first time, and a distant psalmody seemed to descend from it. My lips murmured, very softly: “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at the footstool of His feet.” A holy man once told me that during these hours the heavens are opened. The air exhaled a fragrance of the flowers and herbs I had planted. “Heaven and earth are filled with the glory of the Lord.”
I could well have remained there alone until break of day. I was as if without a body and without any bond to the earth. But fearing that my absence would disturb those with me in the house, I returned and lay down.
Sleep had not really taken possession of me; I do not know whether I was awake or asleep, when suddenly a strange man rose up before me. He was as pale as a dead man. His eyes were as if open, and he looked at me in terror. His face was like a mask, like a mummy’s. His glistening, dark yellow skin was stretched tight over his dead man’s head with all its cavities. He was as if panting. In one hand he held some kind of bizarre object which I could not make out; the other hand was clutching his breast as if he were suffering.
This creature filled me with terror. I looked at him and he looked at me without speaking, as if he were waiting for me to recognize him, strange as he was. And a voice said to me: “It is so-and-so!” And I recognized him immediately. Then he opened his mouth and sighed. His voice came from far away; it came up as from a deep well.
He was in great agony, and I suffered for him. His hands, his feet, his eyes — everything showed that he was suffering. In my despair I was going to help him, but he gave me a sign with his hand to stop. He began to groan in such a way that I froze. Then he said to me: “I have not come; I have been sent. I shake without stop; I am dizzy. Pray God to have pity on me. I want to die but I cannot. Alas! Everything you told me before is true. Do you remember how, several days before my death, you came to see me and spoke about religion? There were two other friends with me, unbelievers like myself. You spoke, and they mocked. When you left, they said: ‘What a pity! He is intelligent and he believes the stupid things old women believe!’
“Another time, and other times too, I told you: ‘Dear Photios, save up money, or else you will die a pauper. Look at my riches, and I want more of them.’ You told me then: ‘Have you signed a pact with death, that you can live as many years as you want and enjoy a happy old age?’
“And I replied: ‘You will see to what an age I will live. Now I am 75; I will live past a hundred. My children are free from want. My son earns a lot of money, and I have married my daughter to a rich Ethiopian. My wife and I have more money than we need. I am not like you who listen to what the priests say: “A Christian ending to our life …” and the rest. What have you to gain from a Christian ending? Better a full pocket and no worries … Give alms? Why did your so merciful God create paupers? Why should I feed them? And they ask you, in order to go to Paradise, to feed idlers! Do you want to talk about Paradise? You know that I am the son of a priest and that I know well all these tricks. That those who have no brains believe them is well enough, but you who have a mind have gone astray. If you continue to live as you are doing, you will die before me, and you will be responsible for those you have led astray. As a physician I tell you and affirm that I will live a hundred and ten years …’”
After saying all this, he turned this way and that as if he were on a grill. I heard his groans: “Ah! Ouch! Oh! Oh!” He was silent for a moment, and then continued: “This is what I said, and in a few days I was dead! I was dead, and I lost the wager! What confusion was mine, what horror! Lost, I descended into the abyss. What suffering I have had up to now, what agony! Everything you told me was true. You have won the wager!
“When I was in the world where you are now, I was an intellectual, I was a physician. I had learned how to speak and to be listened to, to mock religion, to discuss whatever falls under the senses. And now I see that everything I called stories, myths, paper lanterns — is true. The agony which I am experiencing now — this is what is true, this is the worm that never sleeps, this is the gnashing of teeth.”
After having spoken thus, he disappeared. I still heard his groans, which gradually faded away. Sleep had begun to take possession of me, when I felt an icy hand touch me. I opened my eyes and saw him again before me. This time he was more horrible and smaller in body. He had become like a nursing infant, with a large old man’s head which he was shaking.
“In a short time the day will break, and those who have sent me will come to seek me!”
“Who are they?”
He spoke some confused words which I could not make out. Then he added: “There where I am, there are also many who mock you and your faith. Now they understand that their spiritual darts have not gone beyond the cemetery. There are both those you have done good to, and those who have slandered you. The more you forgive them, the more they detest you. Man is evil. Instead of rejoicing him, kindness makes him bitter, because it makes him feel his defeat. The state of these latter is worse than mine. They cannot leave their dark prison to come and find you as I have done. They are severely tormented, lashed by the whip of God’s love, as one of the Saints has said [St. Isaac the Syrian]. The world is something else entirely from what we see! Our intellect shows it to us in reverse. Now we understand that our intellect was only stupid, our conversations were spiteful meanness, our joys were lies and illusions.
“You, who bear God in your hearts, Whose word is Truth, the only Truth — you have won the great wager between believers and unbelievers. This wager I have lost. I tremble, I sigh, and I find no rest. In truth, there is no repentance in hell. Woe to those who walk as I did when I was on earth. Our flesh was drunk and mocked those who believed in God and eternal life; almost everyone applauded us. They treated you as mad, as imbeciles. And the more you accept our mockeries, the more our rage increases.
“Now I see how much the conduct of evil men grieved you. How could you bear with such patience the poisoned darts which issued from our lips which treated you as hypocrites, mockers of God, and deceivers of the people. If these evil men who are still on earth would see where I am, if only they were in my place, they would tremble for everything they are doing. I would like to appear to them and tell them to change their path, but I do not have the permission to do so, just as the rich man did not have it when he begged Abraham to send Lazarus the pauper. Lazarus was not sent, so that those who sinned might be worthy of punishment and those who went on the ways of God might be worthy of salvation.
“He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness yet more; and he that is filthy, let him he made filthy yet more. And he that is righteous, let him do righteousness yet more; and he that is holy, let him be made holy yet more” (Apoc. 22:11).
With these words he disappeared.
By St. Nikolai Velimirovich
"For the zeal of Thy house has eaten me up and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me" (Psalm 69:9).
The heavens are the house of God. The Church of God is the house of God. The bodies of believing people are the house of God. Wherever God is, there is the house of God; and where the house of God is, there is holiness. Men dishonor the holiness of God's house, and the royal prophet is provoked and burns with zeal. He takes upon himself all the offenses against the holy things of God, and they fall upon him like a fire that enkindles him with even more zeal.
Men desecrate the heavens when they do not believe that which God Himself revealed to mankind for the sake of their salvation. When men oppose or pervert the truth, as do the heretics, or when, of their own free will, they conceive of Christ according to their corporeal understanding, or when they have doubts about angels and saints, the Judgment, and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ, and refuse to consider the eternal punishment of unrepentant sinners - in all this and more, men attack the house of God and desecrate its holiness like savage animals. This causes zeal against the opponents and the blasphemers of God to rise in the hearts of the righteous.
In the same manner, men attack the house of God's holiness when they behave unworthily toward the Church of God, when they are negligent concerning the Church's ordinances, when they are slothful toward ecclesiastical commandments and malicious toward the servants of the Church. Again, zeal for the holiness of the house of God is inflamed in the hearts of the righteous and the devout.
Finally, the corrupting of the human body, the surrendering to passions, the service of sin, abduction, murder, brutality, drunkenness and other wicked actions, are all attacks on the holiness of God's house. It is all blasphemy against God and against man. Again, the fervor of the zealots of holiness rises up and shines as a heavenly flame before men. O my brethren, let us look at Christ's zeal for the holiness of God's house, and the zeal of the apostles and the Holy Fathers of our Orthodox Church. Let us have more zeal for our salvation than the devil has, day and night, for our destruction.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Model of our zeal for holiness, grant us a spark of Thy zeal that we may be like Thee in zeal, and be saved by Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
A female American professor once told an Orthodox clergyman the desire of the Pope to invite Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios to the Vatican. The response of both was the following:
"No, we cannot go. Because the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope are not ready. They have very much egoism. They not only want to subjugate us, but they do not believe we have the truth. There is no need to go. We would better help the situation by our prayers."
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
October 30, 2011
In mid-October Egyptian media published news of an altercation between Muslim and Christian students over a classroom seat at a school in Mallawi, Minya province. The altercation lead to the murder of a Christian student. The media portrayed the incident as non-sectarian. However, Copts Without Borders, a Coptic news website, refuted this version and was first to report that the Christian student was murdered because he was wearing a crucifix....
Both parents confirmed that Ayman's classmates, who were present during the assault and whom they met at the hospital and during the funeral, said that while Ayman was in the classroom he was told to cover up his tattooed wrist cross. He refused and defiantly got out the second cross which he wore under his shirt. "The teacher nearly chocked by son and some Muslim students joined in the beating," said his mother.
According to Ayman's father, eyewitnesses told him that his son was not beaten up in the school yard as per the official story, but in the classroom. "They beat my son so much in the classroom that he fled to the lavatory on the ground floor, but they followed him and continued their assault. When one of the supervisors took him to his room, Ayman was still breathing. The ambulance transported him from there dead, one hour later."
Read the rest here.
October 30, 2011
The hardship brought on by Athens’s present fiscal woes is prompting many Greeks to consider looking for opportunities in neighboring İstanbul, says a study published in the Sunday pages of the Greek newspaper Proto Thema.
According to the paper, officials from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and other Greek organizations based in İstanbul have been flooded with calls and letters from Greeks eager to get advice about finding work and housing in İstanbul. At least a decade of fiscal austerity looms in Greece, even after bailout countries agreed to a comprehensive relief plan at last week’s summit of European leaders.
The chair of İstanbul’s Union of Greek Foundations, Andonis Parizianos, was quoted by Proto Thema as saying that many Greeks are now considering registering for graduate school and seeking white collar jobs in the indebted country’s eastern neighbor. Officials at the patriarchate, meanwhile, note that some Greeks considering the move are descendents of Greek families who lived in İstanbul 50 years ago, before the last mass exoduses of İstanbul’s Greek population in the 1950s and 1960s.
Turkey’s ethnic Greeks, who numbered over 115,000 in the 1930s, began to leave Turkey en masse after the 1955 İstanbul riots. The riots saw the looting of Greek property and the murder of as many as 30 ethnic Greeks at the hands of nationalist mobs who were incited by falsified reports that Ataturk’s childhood home in the Greek city of Thessaloniki had been bombed. Turkey’s Greek population suffered another drastic decline in 1964, when roughly 12,000 ethnic Greeks who lacked Turkish citizenship were deported by the government. The two incidents, coupled with continued discrimination in the following decades, largely erased the presence of Greeks in İstanbul.
Today, the nationalist mentality that fostered such ethnic violence has largely evaporated, says Odisseas Vuçinas, a Greek psychologist who recently moved to İstanbul. “Turks have a positive attitude towards us.” he told Proto Thema.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
- Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
I remain, from the beginning, immovable in my opinion that we can easily refer to a "pre-Romanides" and a "post-Romanides" period in the area of our Theology, as well as our academics. Because he by the Grace of God and his deep paternal nature, opened to us the road to freedom from our scholastic oppression, leading us once again to the empirical theologizing of our saints - Prophets, Apostles and Fathers. He restored thus the true understanding for the terms "theology" and "theologian", yet identifying the objective contents of the terms "East-West", in their spiritual dimensions. I often ask myself, with full gratitude, what would we be theologically without Fr. Romanides.
- Fr. George Metallinos
I theorize that the work of Fr. John Romanides is a continuation from the fourteenth century and resembles the work of Saint Gregory Palamas, who faced Barlaam and the Barlaamites. Fr. John Romanides with power, determination, and theological adequacy faced the Barlaamites of our era and presented the value of Orthodox teaching outside of the stochastic, moralistic, idealistic, and religious, magical admixture. For this he has the love of Saint Gregory Palamas and the Hesychast Fathers.
- Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos speaks concerning Fr. John Romanides in Romania on October 14, 2011.
October 30th, 2011
Metropolitan Andrei Saguna, former Metropolitan of Transylvania between 1864 and 1873, was canonized at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu on Saturday, in a ceremony attended by about 10,000 people, according to Mediafax news agency. Among those who attended the Sibiu ceremony were President Traian Basescu, Social Liberal Union leader Victor Ponta, Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, Sibiu Mayor Klaus Johannis, Economy Minister Ion Ariton, Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi and other officials. The service was also attended by local authorities and representatives of several religious denominations in Romania.
The Holy Liturgy held in the cathedral on the occasion was conducted by about 50 Romanian and foreign priests, led by Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Daniel and Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria.
At the end of the canonization service, Transylvania Metropolitan Laurentiu Streza urged all those present in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu to respect the “eight-word testament left by Andrei Saguna: “Keep peace, maintain good ties, do not fight.”
President Basescu also held a speech after the service, saying that Saguna “understood that school, education, culture are a people’s elements of eternity.” “Such a forefather today becomes a saint and I will not miss the opportunity to bow to the holy church figures present here and to Saint Andrei Saguna,” Basescu ended his speech, according to Mediafax.
But the president’s presence at the service and his discourse were heavily criticized by PRM leader Vadim Tudor, who also slammed Transylvania Metropolitan Church officials who allowed the head of state to give his speech in the church. “Now he’s talking in the church, he can no longer speak in public because people boo him and he ended up speaking in church. This event was politicized,” Vadim Tudor said.
Proclamation Of The Canonization Of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, Metropolitan of Transylvania
Today, 29 October 2011, the proclamation of the canonization of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, Metropolitan of Transylvania, took place in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu, in the presence of the Greek and Romanian hierarchs. Many representatives of the state institutions, and Mr. Traian Basescu, President of Romania, too, were present, as well as representatives of the government, of the sister Churches, local authorities, archpriests, priests, professors and people of culture, young students and pupils, and thousands of faithful who wanted to attend.
The feast began with the celebration of the Divine Liturgy officiated by the two patriarchs, together with the group of hierarchs, priests and deacons.
After the Divine Liturgy, the proclamation ceremony of the canonization of Saint Metropolitan Andrei Saguna began with the speech of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel who spoke about the worship of the saints in the Orthodox Church, especially about Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna: “Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna unfolded a special activity marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit. One says the Holy Spirit does not appear in the lazy bored humans. Whenever somebody is lazy and bored it is a sign that he or she does not have the Holy Spirit in him or her. The Holy Spirit is shown in the people full of faith, of enthusiasm, of living the desire to love God and help his fellow beings. Saint Andrei Saguna impresses us with his unlimited love for Christ, for His saints and His Church. We are surprised how much could write and work this man. He built hundreds of Romanian schools in Transylvania and two high schools. He set up Telegraful roman newspaper, which has appeared uninterruptedly till today, as missionary means of spreading faith and defending the Romanians unity and dignity in Transylvania. He translated the Holy Scriptures in four volumes and praised Saint Simeon Stefan whom we shall proclaim saint tomorrow, after the Holy Synod approved his canonization, in Alba Iulia, because he translated the New Testament into Greek. Saint Andrei Saguna bequeathed us the church statutes which our Church still uses in large part. He fought a tireless fight for defending Orthodoxy and dignity of the Orthodox in Transylvania.”
Further on the synodal Tomos was read by His Grace Ciprian Campineanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch and Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
There followed the speech of the Patriarch of Alexandria who appreciated that “as soon as I end this pilgrimage to Romania I will go back to Africa and continue my missionary journeys to 18 countries and I will take with me this joy I lived these days over here. This is why I feel I shall go back much strengthened and feel stronger when I go for 7 or 8 hours on the roads still unused in the tropical forests of Africa, fully convinced that Your Beatitude’s prayers will accompany me, as well as those of all hierarchs, clergy and Christian righteous from here, from Romania.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostom spoke, in his turn, about the importance of this special event.
The Metropolitan of Patras offered His Eminence Laurentiu of Transylvania an epitrachelion and a hierarch’s omophorion, and a blessing cross for the Metropolitan Cathedral “on behalf of the clergy and righteous people of Patras city”.
His Eminence Metropolitan Laurentiu expressed in his speech his joy to have lived this blessed moment, and offered, in the end, the Patriarch of Romania, a blessing cross, an icon of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, Metropolitan of Transylvania, three original writings of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, as well as an album dedicated to the Metropolitan Cathedral of Sibiu. His Eminence has also offered the Patriarch of Alexandria a blessing cross and an icon of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, while His Eminence Metropolitan Chrisostom offered him the icon of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, as well as to all the members of the delegation.
To end with, the President of Romania, Mr. Traian Basescu eulogized the personality of Saint Hierarch Andrei Saguna, Metropolitan of Transylvania.
The Monastery of Saint David is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior, yet associated with Saint David who lived his monastic life here in the 16th century. The feast of Saint David is November 1st and the Transfiguration is celebrated on August 6th. Within the church are the relics of St. David, his censor, his priestly stole, and other treasures. South of the Monastery is the cave of St. David, amidst many other chapels dedicated to various saints. 1,000 kilometers north of the Monastery is the Holy Spring, which according to tradition was created by St. David when he hit a rock with his cane.
Greek Orthodox cleric was sued for punching haredi man who spat in his direction in 2008.
October 31, 2011
In a rare ruling, a judge in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court dismissed an indictment filed against a priest who punched a haredi yeshiva student in the face for having spat at him as he passed.
In June 2008, Greek Orthodox priest Martarsian was walking along The Armenian’s Street, in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, when the yeshiva student spat toward the ground in his direction.
The priest then punched the man in the face, causing him to bleed.
The priest did not dispute that he had punched the man, but asked that the indictment be dismissed in accordance with a clause in the law that allows for charges to be dismissed “if the indictment contravenes the essence of the principles of justice and fairness.”
Judge Dov Pollock said in his ruling last Tuesday that the court had heard evidence of daily incidents in which Christian clergy were spat upon by members of the ultra-Orthodox community, something which, the judge added, has been occurring for a number of years and which the police has not acted to prevent.
“Needless to say, spitting toward the accused when he was wearing the mantle of the church is a criminal offense,” the judge said.
Those who do this “hurt not only the people they spit at, but the image of our country, tourism and our values.”
The judge criticized the priest for taking the law into his own hands but said that it was equally deplorable that the authorities do not take the required action to uproot the phenomenon through prosecution and education.
“It is intolerable that a man of the Christian faith should be demeaned because of his religion, in the same way that it is for a Jew, Pollock said.
“The Jewish people experienced a long history of Christian anti-Semitism that brought great suffering to Jews and Judaism,” the judge continued.
“However, with the realization of the return of the Jewish people to sovereignty and independence, the state must strive not to look back but to establish a country that guarantees freedom of religion and worship to every religion, a state where every person is equal before the law without distinction of race or religion. These things are the cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence, and the rock of the foundation of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state.”
The plaintiff told the court that he had not spat at the priest to degrade him but because he suffered from a medical complaint that caused him to produce a lot of saliva.
Pollock dismissed this argument owing to the fact that he had not produced any medical documentation to substantiate the claim, nor had he needed to spit during the duration of the court proceedings.
“The defendant is being prosecuted for having, in a single incident, punched a man who spat in front of him, after having suffered years of being spat at and demeaned while wearing the mantle of the church, and having never received any response from the authorities for this distress,” the judge said.
He ruled that the indictment represented a contravention of the principles of justice, for which he was dismissing the charges.
Shahar Ilan, vice president of Hiddush – For Religious Freedom and Equality, applauded the ruling and called on rabbis and leaders of the haredi community to denounce the phenomenon of members of their community spitting at Christian clergy.
“The haredi leadership has to understand that the fact that we have established a Jewish state brings responsibility, Ilan told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“We have to prove that we don’t treat people from other religions as Jews were treated in the past. The idea that we came here and treated others as we were treated is simply insufferable.”
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin of Efrat, co-founder of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation, also welcomed the ruling.
“The crime this man committed by spitting at the priest was embarrassing him. This yeshiva student was in return embarrassed by having been struck by the priest, so I hope it was a lesson well learned for this particular yeshiva student,” Riskin said.
“The haredi community’s attitude to the Christian church stems from the pogroms carried out by Christians mobs against Jews in Europe for hundreds of years, incited by members of the Christian clergy, Riskin said.
“But times have changed and a whole new era of Jewish-Christian relations and understanding has dawned upon the world, and the haredim – and all Jews – should understand this and act accordingly.”
Monday, October 31, 2011
October 17, 2011
The Huffington Post
Every year Christians face a cultural dilemma, beautifully articulated by a 5-year-old boy's announcement to his parents upon returning home from school one day.
"Mom and Dad, Jesus hates Halloween!" Then, pausing, he mumbled, "But He likes it a little bit, doesn't He?"
And therein lies the conundrum of the Christ follower -- what to do with Halloween. Traditionally, Christians and anything related to the horror genre have not mixed well. Like oil and vinegar. Church and State. Alcohol and tattoos.
Some Christians even go so far as to claim Halloween is, in reality "Devil's Birthday." Really? Never mind the Bible doesn't say that. Note to self: File under "Christian Superstitions."
What that little boy was really trying to communicate was, "Mom and Dad, can I dress up like a pirate and get some candy this Friday night?"
But the dilemma remains concerning this perennial predicament. What are Christians supposed to do with the hoopla and festivities surrounding this evil holiday? Are we to ignore it? Pretend it doesn't exist? Lob "Gospel Grenades" of condemnation at those who celebrate it? Hand out religious pamphlets instead of candy to trick or treaters? Or offer an alternative, like a Harvest Festival, Fall Carnival or even "Reformation Day Celebration"?
Unfortunately, many people's only exposure to Christianity is when the "religious right" is condemning or complaining about something -- culturally or politically. However, that's changing in a lot of communities. Christians are waking up and engaging culture instead of merely vilifying it. The apostle Paul was a master at observing culture and redeeming it for God's purposes -- using customs, practices -- even idols and quotes from secular poets to illustrate biblical truth. While in Athens, he used a pagan Greek word for 'God' (theos) to build a verbal bridge communicating who the true God (Jehovah) was (Acts 17:23).
In reality, a lot of church members are huge fans of the horror genre in books and movies, and untold numbers wait with baited breath to catch the highly anticipated second season of AMC's The Walking Dead (or TiVo-ing it to watch after Sunday night Church).
Enter a new book: "The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook: Slaying the Living Dead Within." Officially releasing this week worldwide, the title is sure to arouse curiosity, combining two seemingly contradictory terms. I wrote this book, in part because I've always been a fan of the horror genre. But anther dilemma: how to reconcile that to my faith without compromising or stretching the truth?
As it turns out, that part was easy as zombies are a powerful metaphor paralleling a core theological truth. George Romero, legendary director and godfather of zombie films, has said, "I've always liked the monster within idea. I like the zombies being us."
Bingo, George. And that's precisely why zombies are so disturbing. We see a mirror of humanity when looking into their dark sockets. They're messy, smelly and they want to consume our flesh and brains. They don't go away just because you wish it so. They don't even stop chasing you when you shoot them, unless of course you shoot them in the head. They're just pure evil and you never know when they're going to lumber up behind you and bite a bloody hunk of meat out of your trapezoid muscle.
But back to the idea of "stinky Christians." The bite of this zombie metaphor cuts even deeper now. There's a spiritual parallel in their insatiable craving for self-satisfaction. The Bible describes this as the "old man" or "old self" (Rom 6:6), also commonly referred to as the "sin nature." It's the part of us that resists God and runs from Him. It even hates Him. It's the immaterial, mystical part of our soul that wants our own way over God's way. And though as Christians this evil entity has no legal authority over us anymore (Rom 6:6-11), we still feel it creeping up on us. Like, every day.
This creates tension. And confusion. And frustration. But Christianity typically avoids messiness. We don't like friction in our faith. We prefer order and predictability. Smooth sailing is our journey of choice. But God likes to throw a wrench in the gears every now and then, to challenge us. To get us to think. To engage. And to find new ways to live out faith our in the marketplace. In doing this, we Christians discover we aren't really any "better" than anyone else. This zombie inside us smells as putrid as any portrayed by Hollywood. And though we have accepted Christ's atoning sacrifice on our behalf (Col 1:13-14), we still struggle with many of the same temptations and sins as the rest of humanity (Rom 7:15-25). We become acutely aware of an inner beast that constantly moans and gnaws at our spirit.
"The Christian Zombie Killers Handbook" offers escape, survival and a win over the zombie inside. This book shows you how to slay the living dead within. With its unique blend of fiction, graphic novel inspired illustrations, and spiritual guidance, it delivers a fresh, relevant look at the doctrines of sin, grace, salvation and the inner conflict we all face.
In the end, this annual Fall dilemma is much deeper than culture, Halloween, TV shows and trick or treating. The real issue is "What do I do with this rotting corpse?"
October 29, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Every year, parents and police departments worry about tricks in their kids' Halloween treats: razor blades in apples, poison in candy bars.
But incidents of candy poisoning are very, very rare -- if they exist at all.
"There have never been any substantiated cases of strangers tampering with Halloween candy," said Susan Whiteside, in an email to Booster Shots Friday. Whiteside is a spokesperson for the National Confectioners Assn., which provides an FAQ on Halloween candy safety and coordinates with law enforcement to track reports of tainted treats.
The Los Angeles Times has written about popular misconceptions about tampered Halloween candy. In this report from 1985, Anne C. Roark noted that one L.A.-area hospital had been X-raying candy for four years and never found anything. Four years later, columnist Mike Spencer pounded the message home, calling candy poisoning "a myth."
Both stories featured the work of sociologist Joel Best. In the 1980s, Best was a professor at Cal State Fresno; today he teaches at the University of Delaware. He has devoted almost 30 years to debunking the "Halloween sadism" myth, addressing it in books and scholarly papers and at great length on his website (where you can find updated information, including a catalog of reports of Halloween poisonings that later turned out to have other explanations).
"Halloween sadism is best seen as a contemporary legend (sometimes called an urban legend,)" he writes on the website. "Contemporary legends are ways we express anxiety. Note that concerns about Halloween tend to be particularly acute in years when some sort of terrible recent crime has heightened public fears."
Best points out, for example, that the Sept. 11 attacks were followed by warnings against visiting malls on Halloween.
(For more on Best's work, check out this interview, posted on Tuesday, with USC sociologist Karen Sternheimer. This lengthy Snopes.com discussion of Halloween poisonings also mentions his research.)
It still makes sense to look over kids' candy haul before letting them dig in. This Halloween safety site from the Centers for Disease Control advises trick-or-treaters to "eat only factory-wrapped treats" and to "examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them." In addition to more predictable warnings, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against tasting raw cookie dough and recommends making sure juice or cider served at parties is pasteurized.
For the most part, the dangers lurk elsewhere: in those creepy decorative contact lenses that give you lizard eyes (which are often sold improperly and used incorrectly, according to the FDA); in fireworks; in choking; and especially, with inattentive or drunk drivers. Want a safe Halloween? Make sure your little Angry Bird, astronaut or witch looks both ways before crossing the street. Carrying a flashlight is a good idea too.
By Stephen Wagner
It was the night of October 31, 1936. Halloween night. The men and women sat at the round table with joined hands. They awaited the message - the message they had hoped for every Halloween night for the past 10 years. But the message did not come.
Finally, one woman rose from the table and announced to the others - and to a listening radio audience - "Houdini did not come through," she said. "My last hope is gone. I do not believe that Houdini can come back to me, or to anyone...The Houdini Shrine has burned for ten years. I now, reverently... turn out the light. It is finished. Good night, Harry!"
The woman was Bess Houdini, wife of the famed magician and escape artist. And this was the last séance she would participate in to try to contact her dead husband. But the séances themselves did not stop. Every October 31, from 1927 up to the present day, a séance has been conducted with hopes of contacting the spirit of Harry Houdini. So far, the great Houdini has not made his presence known.
The Houdini séance has been a Halloween tradition since the first anniversary of his death. The magician died at the age of 52 on October 31, 1926 from peritonitis - an internal infection - as the result of a ruptured appendix.
Shortly before his death, Houdini made a pact with Bess that if he could, he would return and make contact with her from the other side. They devised a coded message that only he and Bess knew; this would prove that it really was Houdini breaking through from the afterlife. But after 10 séances in 10 years, Bess had not received her beloved husband's personal message.
Oddly enough, Harry Houdini did not necessarily believe that spirits of the dead could be contacted. Aside from his fame as a stage magician and astonishing escape artist, Houdini was just as well known - especially in the later part of his career - as a debunker of spirit mediums and phony séances. He felt, however, that if it were possible for anyone to come back, he would find a way to do it.
In the 1920s, spiritualism was at a new height in the US and Britain. There was a strong, popular belief in the notion that it was possible to communicate with the dead through séances and channeling psychics knows as mediums. The movement had begun in the mid-1800s, grew in popularity over 20 years, then slowly fizzled out toward the turn of the century as more and more mediums were exposed as frauds. But after World War I, there was a resurgence in the spiritualist movement as many families longed to contact those who had perished in battle.
And the mediums were right there to fill the need for a public so willing to believe. The best mediums were masterful tricksters and showpeople, and their séances were thrilling multimedia performances of spirit channeling, levitating tables, floating instruments that played themselves, written messages from the dead and spontaneous manifestations of ectoplasm. The performances were ingenious and succeeded in fooling many otherwise intelligent people. Houdini, being a magician and a rather ingenious fellow himself, knew that these séances were just clever hoaxes.
HOUDINI VS. THE MEDIUMS
Early in his career, however, Houdini wasn't above staging some phony séances of his own. According to Houdini: A Magician Among the Spirits, "Houdini hosted special Sunday night performances for the California Concert Company, a Midwestern medicine show, in 1898. During séances, Houdini floated tables and played musical instruments while tied to a chair. After the company disbanded, he and his wife Bess continued to give séances for local union halls and dime museums until they signed with the Welsh Brothers Circus later that same year. In 1899, Houdini's career skyrocketed and he left the medium business behind."
In the 1920s, Houdini became an active crusader against the spirit mediums he felt were exploiting gullible people who grieved for lost loved ones. As he traveled the country performing his act, he would seek out the local mediums and expose their deceptions. Because he was so well known, Houdini often attended these séances in disguise. In 1922, Scientific American magazine asked him to join a "psychic committee" to help investigate the claims of mediums. The magazine offered a cash prize of $2,500 to any medium who could produce a supernatural manifestation to the satisfaction of the committee. No one ever won the prize.
One of the most famous mediums to take on the challenge was a beautiful young woman named Mina Crandon, who gained renown as "Margery, the Boston Medium." But she too failed under the sharp eye of Houdini, who caught her levitating the table with her head and ringing a bell with her foot. Houdini later offered Crandon $5,000 if she could demonstrate any supernatural phenomena on stage in her home town of Boston. She declined the invitation.
Naturally, Houdini was not popular among mediums around the country, as he was a threat to their livelihood. His crusading also made him an adversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, esteemed author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, who was a staunch believer and advocate of spiritualism, and a defender of Mina Crandon. After Houdini and the Scientific American committee denounced Crandon, Doyle wrote an article for the Boston Herald criticizing the committee. Houdini, in turn, threatened to sue Doyle for his "harsh remarks."
Since the Halloween night when Bess Houdini turned off the light at her husband's portrait, the séances to contact the dead magician have continued in many parts of the country, both officially and unofficially. It may be impossible to tell whether or not Houdini is really being channeled at any of these annual séances because the secret coded message Houdini devised with his wife has since been revealed - by Bess herself.
"The message was based on both sentimentality and an old vaudeville mind-reading routine," according to Houdini - magictricks.com. "The message was, 'Rosabelle- answer- tell- pray, answer- look- tell- answer, answer- tell.' Bess's wedding band bore the inscription 'Rosabelle,' the name of the song she sang in her act when they first met. The other words correspond to a secret spelling code used to pass information between a magician and his assistant during a mentalism act. Each word or word pair equals a letter. The word 'answer' stood for the letter 'B,' for example. 'Answer, answer' stood for the letter 'V.' Thus, the Houdinis' secret phrase spelled out the word 'believe'."
In 1929, a young medium named Arthur Ford claimed he had successfully received the secret message from Harry Houdini. Upon investigation, however, it was discovered that Ford's claim was a hoax. Bess, it seems, had inadvertently revealed the message to reporters more than a year earlier.
Even though Bess gave up the séances herself, she asked magician Walter B. Gibson to carry on the October 31 tradition. For many years, Gibson, along with several other magicians, held the séances at the Magic Towne House in New York City. Countless other "unofficial" Houdini séances have been held by local psychics across the country throughout the years - all in good fun, but with no definitive proof of so much as a "hello" from Harry Houdini.
Today, the official Houdini Séance is held at The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. And true to the times, they have been conducting séances on the Internet.
October 31, 2011
As Western youths flock to Halloween parties dressed as ghosts, zombies and witches, opinion polls show most Russians will ignore the event, with only a few people planning to celebrate a holiday many Russian officials and religious authorities claim is “Satanic."
Sixty-seven percent of Russians said they had no plans to mark one of the world's oldest – and most commercialized – holidays, according to a poll conducted by Russia’s Levada Center in late October.
Just 6 percent of Russians plan to attend Halloween parties on the night of October 31, amid growing concerns the psychological and social impact of the Celtic holiday is “destructive.” The low expected participation rate comes despite increasing Russian awareness of the holiday, which grew from 54 percent to 73 percent in the past five years.
Education officials and religious figures have fuelled fears about the Halloween celebrations, which date to Pagan times. Back in 2003, the Education Department of the city of Moscow recommended that primary and secondary school teachers ban Halloween at schools.
According to a recommendation issued by the department, the holiday stems from “rituals of Satanically oriented religious sects” and promotes “the cult of death.” Quoting psychologists, the document’s author concludes that Halloween celebrations “mystify and satanize a child’s mind,” leading to the “moral corruption of children.”
Halloween, which once marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of winter, gained popularity in Russia after the Soviet collapse, with the first Halloween parties held in Russian schools in the late 1990s, said Konstantin Ushakov, the editor-in-chief of the magazine School Headmaster.
“Before that time, we did not know anything about the holiday,” he said, adding that Halloween celebrations in Russia “were not prompted by any social or political reasons – people just wanted to have one more holiday.”
Following a global trend, the popularity of Haloween, which has long lost its religious meaning and is viewed by youths as an opportunity for fun rather than a Satanic party, has increased in big Russian cities since the fall of the Iron Curtain, but the Russian provinces remain largely untouched by Halloween fever.
“Banning Halloween?! It’s a witch-hunt and bigotry!” said a 26-year-old Muscovite, who identified herself as Yekaterina. She recalled her school Halloween parties as joyful events that had nothing to do with “Satanism.”
“Each group of students prepared some attractions for the party – a Panic Room, a fortune telling session, or a Haloween Pumpkins contest for example. We sang English songs and organized performances for our parents,” she said.
"I've always enjoyed Halloween," said Julia Planova, a Russian-born student from Ottawa. She said, however, that she understood why some people do not want children to celebrate the holiday.
“Many girls dress slutty for Halloween. Here [in Ottawa] for example, most people buy their costumes in sex shops," said Julia, whose family left Russia for Canada in the late 1990s. "Children’s moral values can certainly be damaged by such things."
“But ‘Satanism’ is all around," she added. "Take various films about vampires for example... Banning Halloween alone would not change anything."
Besides the psychological threats allegedly posed by Halloween, opponents say the holiday should be banned from schools because under the Constitution, Russia is a secular state.
In July, the Education Department in Russia’s northern Republic of Karelia addressed a letter to local education authorities and school headmasters recommending that Halloween parties that “include religious elements” and therefore violate the “secular character of education” in Russia, be cancelled at schools throughout Karelia.
Instead, “new forms of school holidays based on Russian cultural values” should be promoted among children, the document reads.
Ushakov dismissed the argument that Halloween’s “religious” nature makes it unsuitable for schools.
“I believe that this argument is not relevant anymore, because the pressure of non-secular education [at schools] is quite strong,” he said.
A few years ago, the Russian authorities moved to introduce optional religious education at secondary schools, which is due to include a course on Russia's four largest religions, as well as on secular ethics. A subject called the Basics of Orthodox Culture has already been launched in some Russian regions as part of an experiment by the Russian Education Ministry.
The move, which was supported by more than two thirds of Russians, according to a 2009 poll by Levada Center, as well the Russian Orthodox Church and leaders of some other religions, sparked heated public debates. Many public figures, rights activists and other religious leaders have warned that the initiative would lead to discrimination and social divisions.
As for Halloween, Ushakov said he believed its celebration at schools was “quite normal.”
“There are many holidays that have pagan roots and I don’t see the need to link the holiday to any deep ideology,” he said. “If they want to celebrate – let them.”
Halloween is not the only holiday considered “improper” by Russian conservatives. The increasing popularity of St. Valentine's Day among Russian youths has also alarmed some high-ranking officials and religious authorities, who have warned of the holiday’s “negative influence” on the youngsters’ “spiritual security” and their “moral values.”
In 2008, Russia introduced an alternative to St. Valentine's, the Day of Family, Love and Faithfulness. The holiday, also known as the Day of Sts. Peter and Fevronia, the Orthodox patrons of marriage, is marked on July 8 with a daisy being its symbol instead of a red heart. Russia’s first lady Svetlana Medvedev is among the new holiday’s most active promoters.
By Demetrius (Co-Founder of OCPRS Toronto, Canada)
One of the most intriguing questions explored by most paranormal societies is whether or not there is life after death? “Ghosts” are thought to be the souls of the dead, bound to wander the earth. Countless stories and reports of ghosts have provided various circumstances and descriptions assigned to the belief in life after death. Science and philosophy have been used to explore the paranormal phenomenon of “ghosts” in one form or another. During the 18th century, the philosopher and empiricist, David Hume (b.1711 – d.1776), explored the question concerning life after death in one of his essays. A stout sceptic, Hume believed that “Nothing in this world is perpetual, every thing however seemingly firm is in continual flux and change, the world itself gives symptoms of frailty and dissolution.” Hume applied this view against the belief in a soul and life after death. Although far from answering the question surrounding an afterlife, there are other examples which do not dismiss the possibility of an afterlife so easily. The famous psychologist Carl Jung (b.1875 – d.1961) also explored the question concerning life after death. Jung believed that “All of the dreams of people who are facing death indicate that the unconscious, that is, our instinct world, prepares consciousness not for a definite end but for a profound transformation and for a kind of continuation of the life process which, however, is unimaginable to everyday consciousness.” These examples provide a sense of how important philosophy was and continues to be in science. Unfortunately, many paranormal researchers attempt to apply science to their questions with little regard for the philosophical implications. Due to the nature of such a question, the theological considerations are equally important, although less significant in the minds of most paranormal investigators. When religion or spirituality is taken into account by most paranormal investigators it is typically a non-Christian viewpoint.
The immortal soul is perhaps one of the most important underlying subjects spread across paranormal phenomenon today. Naturally, when science and technology are adopted by paranormal investigators, what emerges, are paranormal theories attempting to explore and answer the unknown. One such paranormal theory which has become popular is that “ghosts” are made up of energy, specifically an undetermined type of Electromagnetic energy. The technology used by paranormal investigators – EMF meters, Audio Recorders for EVP, etc. – seemingly supports the idea that “ghosts” are electromagnetic in one form or another. The paranormal theory also includes other areas of science in an attempt to validate the electromagnetic nature of “ghosts.” Many paranormal investigators have turned to Physics, such as the First Law of Thermodynamics in order to broaden the electromagnetic “ghost” theory.
FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS – Energy can not be created or destroyed but can change, from one form of energy to another.
The premise of the paranormal theory concerning “ghosts” is that the human body contains energy, and following death this energy changes from one state to another – the First Law of Thermodynamics. To support this, additional sciences are included to support the electromagnetic nature of “ghosts.” Among the variety of sciences, which are included, are Bioelectricity and Neuroscience. A brief explanation of these two other fields of science will also help explain the paranormal theory surrounding electromagnetism and “ghosts.” Bioelectricity examines electric potentials produced by living organisms, and this includes the human being. The field of Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary study including biology, chemistry, medicine, psychology, etc. and is the study of the nervous system. Both Bioelectricity and Neuroscience are closely related.
The energy identified to the human body, according to the sciences applied by paranormal investigators, are neurons. Neurons are electrically excitable cells that process and transmit information by electrical and chemical signals. They are at the core of the nervous system. Identified as energy, the First Law of Thermodynamics seems to support the idea that the energy changes from one state to another following death. In other words, the sciences provide an explanation to the paranormal theory of electromagnetism and “ghosts.” The science applied to this paranormal theory is very convincing. Or is it?
There are problems with this paranormal theory explaining the nature of “ghosts.” In order to explore these problems there are certain issues which need to be addressed. Since the underlying theme to such a theory is the exploration of the existence to an afterlife, it becomes necessary to compare what the teachings of the Holy Church Fathers are in such paranormal theories. Why the Church Fathers are justifiably used here to examine the paranormal theory in question is largely due to the fact that the paranormal theory about “ghosts” rests on religious beliefs concerning the soul and an afterlife. The philosophical and theological considerations belonging to the Church Fathers are therefore valid. By comparing the teachings of the Church Fathers to the sciences found in the paranormal theory regarding “ghosts” and their electromagnetic nature, many overlooked realizations will allow people to rethink what they think they know about the afterlife.
If the human body contains energy in the form of neurons, it becomes necessary to explore Neuroscience. For the sake of brevity, this science will only be examined in relation to the paranormal theory about “ghosts.” There are estimates which state that the human brain has billions of neurons. These cells work in a very complex way, transmitting electrical signals for various functions throughout the brain and body – the nervous system. This would suggest that the paranormal theory is describing the human soul as a complex and multi-celled distribution of energy. From St. Gregory Thaumaturgus’ On the Soul there is a description which describes the soul in a very particular way and does not find any similarities with the paranormal theory: “the soul is simple, best of all, by those arguments by which its incorporeality has been demonstrated. For if it is not a body, while every body is compound, and what is composite is made up of parts, and is consequently multiplex, the soul, on the other hand, being incorporeal, is simple; since thus it is both uncompounded and indivisible into parts.” Here, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus describes the soul in a singular nature that is not divisible. He is not alone in such explanations, and Tertullian is another Church Father who explained in his A Treatise on the Soul: “Being thus single, simple, and entire in itself, it is as incapable of being composed and put together from external constituents.” Once again, the singular and indivisible nature of the soul is described. The soul is a simple and singular essence and not something divisible or consisting of billions of cells. Once again, the paranormal theory implies that the human body contains an energy thought to be a soul, and that this energy is ultimately consisting of billions of neurons, each containing their own electrical signal. If these neurons represent the nature of the soul, this means the soul – as energy – is divisible. This conflicts with the teachings of the Holy Church Fathers. On the other hand, the human being is made up of corporeal and incorporeal natures – body and soul. The neurons are cells belonging to the corporeal body and not the soul. Some may argue that the soul acts through the nervous system. This argument, however, ignores the teachings of the Church which believe that the actions of the flesh can stain the soul, and therefore the flesh acts against the soul. In other words, one affects the other thereby revealing that body and soul are not the same thing. Even if paranormal investigators reject this argument since it belongs to the Church, they can not ignore their own beliefs which identify the circumstances or causes for ghosts and haunted locations. These include physical events affecting the soul, such as the belief that murder victims become restless spirits. In any case, the problems with the paranormal theory concerning “ghosts” and electromagnetism are not limited to Neuroscience.
Returning to the First Law of Thermodynamics, it is understood that energy can not be destroyed or created. If the soul is energy, as hypothesized in the paranormal theory, this would mean the soul is not something created. Again, the Holy Church Fathers offer descriptions about the soul which state something contrary to the paranormal theory. In St. Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Resurrection, “The soul is an essence created.” Tertullian also expresses this belief about the soul: “the soul originates in the breath of God, it follows that we attribute a beginning to it” (A Treatise on the Soul). Even the Nicene Creed indicates the creation of all things visible and invisible, and this would include the soul. If energy cannot be created, as the First Law of Thermodynamics suggests, this would mean that the human soul is not an energy recognized by science, or especially according to its created nature through God. Of course, the philosophical and theological considerations compared to the paranormal theory of “ghosts” does not resolve the beliefs held by individuals – especially paranormal investigators who gravitate towards many non-Christian beliefs and practices. Despite this, the next set of problems rest with the technology used to support the paranormal theory of “ghosts” and electromagnetism.
EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meters measure various fields of energy depending on the type of meter used. Electromagnetic fields which can be measured by such EMF meters are AC (Alternating Current) and DC (Direct Current). Keeping all the sciences previously explored in mind, a problem presents itself with EMF meters being used to detect “ghosts.” Since EMF meters are used to detect “ghosts” this would ultimately mean that the bioelectric energy contained within the human body changes from one form of energy to another following death. If EMF meters are designed to measure AC or DC electromagnetism, this would suggest that the energy change following death is either AC or DC electromagnetic energy. Why this is problematic is due to other technologies used to detect “ghosts” through different fields of electromagnetism.
The Electromagnetic Spectrum includes Infrared and Ultraviolet radiation and various cameras designed to capture such light energy are also used to support the paranormal theory about “ghosts” and electromagnetism. Infrared lenses and Full Spectrum Cameras are thought to capture the energy of “ghosts.” Comparing the Infrared and Ultraviolet radiation to how EMF meters measure AC or DC electromagnetic fields, Infrared and Ultraviolet energy therefore conflicts with the type of electromagnetic energy “ghosts” are thought to consist of. The various forms of technology used by paranormal societies measure different types of energy that are not consistent with one another. Sometimes these technological inconsistencies are ignored and lead investigators of the paranormal into misconceptions about the scientific theories they are barrowing.
Many paranormal investigators wilfully ignore the teachings of the Church Fathers and prefer to blend various scientific theories to their own beliefs barrowed from diverse non-Christian sources: Modern Spiritualism, the New Age, and other occult sciences. After all, the belief that ghosts are the spirits of dead people is mostly explored through religions and spirituality belonging to the non-Christian variety. The philosophical and theological considerations belonging to Christianity are either accepted or rejected. If accepted, this could help people understand and recognize that the current science applied to the field of paranormal phenomenon is misapplied. Instead, what is accepted as “science” within paranormal theories is really pseudo-science that ignores both science and philosophy. Simply borrowing scientific theories and applying them to paranormal phenomenon does not always make paranormal theories valid. What rests at the heart of most paranormal theories are personal beliefs drawn from non-Christian sources of spirituality. The sciences applied to paranormal theories are over-generalized and superficially mask the underlying premise of any such argument involving the belief in an afterlife.
Author: Felix J. Oinas
Source: The Slavic and East European Journal, Vol. 22, No. 4, (Winter, 1978), pp. 433-441
Published by: American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages
In English, heretic (Greek hairetikos "able to choose") means "a person who professes any heresy; especially, a church member who holds beliefs opposed to the official church doctrines."' The meaning of the word eretik, "heretic" in Russian is basically the same: "the follower of heresy, a person who deviates from the dogmas of the predominating church." The question regarding the Old Believers is not clear: some do and others do not include them as heretics.2 Primarily in the Russian north, "heretics "have developed into a heterogeneous group of sorcerers, witches, and vampires called eretik, eretnik, eretica, eretnica, erestun, and others. Zelenin includes heretics (eretnik) among sorcerers (Zauberer) and remarks that they do not belong to evil forces and do not have tails.3
In northern Russia and Siberia heretics appear after death as evil, blood-thirsty vampires. Efimenko defines the meaning of the word eretik current in the Senkursk district of Karelia as "a person who does not believe in God and who repudiates his laws, or who is not yet an Old Believer." He continues:
There were such people, who roamed around at night in villages, captured people and ate them. The eretiki were not alive, but dead. Therefore, if they really got on the nerves of the people, the people gathered at the grave of the one who was known as a sorcerer during his lifetime, opened it up with stakes, took out the eretik who was lying with his face downwards, and burned him in a bonfire or pierced his back with an aspen stick.... The person-magician (kudesnik), wizard (znaxar') or harmer (poreelnik) - who was called a "sorcerer" (koldun) in his lifetime, would become an eretik after his death, if he walks around at night and begins to eat people, as it has been going on for centuries. (186-87.)
This description shows that the eretiki appear as clear-cut vampires: sorcerers who become vampires after their deaths, devour human beings, and are destroyed by fire or stake.
Read the rest of the article here.
Saint Mercurius of Smolensk is an Orthodox Saint who is said to have walked after his head was decapitated. A legendary story of St. Denis also says the same. The latter is a mock story told by Voltaire in La Pucella d'Orleans. Dostoevsky, to undermine the authority of Voltaire, mentions this tale in The Brothers Karamazov through the mouth of the dissolute Fedore Karamazov (Part 1, Book 2, Chapter 2). He asks Elder Zosima: "Is it true, great Father, that the story is told somewhere in the Lives of the Saints of a holy saint martyred for his faith who, when his head was cut off at last, stood up, picked up his head, and, 'courteously kissing it,' walked a long way, carrying it in his hands. Is that true or not, honoured Father?" Zosima denies the veracity of the story, but maybe it is the detail of the 'courteously kissing it,' that he in fact denied.
Historically, there are many stories of severed heads surviving for minutes after an execution, but only one headless body that stood up and took a stroll - on October 20th 610 years ago.
When the feared pirate Klaus Stortebeker faced his executioners in Hamburg, Germany, he struck a strange last minute deal: If, after his beheading, his headless body could walk, however many of his 70 captive men he made it past would be freed. It was agreed, and then he was executed.
Then, according to legend, his corpse got up and walked past eleven of his men, before the executioner tripped him. Deal or no deal, all of the pirates were murdered that day, their skulls impaled and displayed as a waring to others.
In 1898 the mass grave of the pirates was unearthed during construction, and the skull believed to be that of Stortebeker was donated to the Hamburg Museum where it has been on display since 1922. Last year the famous skull went missing, stolen from its display cabinet. After a desperate search and many false leads, the skull was finally discovered and returned earlier this year, impaled to avoid being taken.
The original source of this story is taken from the "Ecclesiastical History" of Theodoret (Bk. 3, Ch. 10), cited below:
A young man who was a priest's son, and brought up in impiety, about this time went over to the true religion. For a lady remarkable for her devotion and admitted to the order of deaconesses was an intimate friend of his mother. When he came to visit her with his mother, while yet a tiny lad, she used to welcome him with affection and urge him to the true religion. On the death of his mother the young man used to visit her and enjoyed the advantage of her wonted teaching. Deeply impressed by her counsels, he enquired of his teacher by what means he might both escape the superstition of his father and have part and lot in the truth which she preached. She replied that he must flee from his father, and honor rather the Creator both of his father and himself; that he must seek some other city wherein he might lie hidden and escape the violence of the impious emperor; and she promised to manage this for him. "Then", said the young man, "henceforward I shall come and commit my soul to you."
Not many days afterwards Julian came to Daphne, to celebrate a public feast. With him came the young man's father, both as a priest, and as accustomed to attend the emperor; and with their father came the young man and his brother, being appointed to the service of the temple and charged with the duty of ceremonially sprinkling the imperial viands. It is the custom for the festival of Daphne to last for seven days. On the first day the young man stood by the emperor's couch, and according to the prescribed usage aspersed the meats, and thoroughly polluted them. Then at full speed he ran to Antioch, and making his way to that admirable lady, "I have come", said he, "to you; and I have kept my promise. Do you look to the salvation of each and fulfill your pledge." At once she arose and conducted the young man to Meletius the man of God, who ordered him to remain for awhile upstairs in the inn.
His father after wandering about all over Daphne in search of the boy, then returned to the city and explored the streets and lanes, turning his eyes in all directions and longing to light upon his lad. At length he arrived at the place where the divine Meletius had his hostelry; and looking up he saw his son peeping through the lattice. He ran up, drew him along, got him down, and carried him off home. Then he first laid on him many stripes, then applied hot spits to his feet and hands and back, then shut him up in his bedroom, bolted the door on the outside, and returned to Daphne.
So I myself have heard the man himself narrate in his old age, and he added further that he was inspired and filled with Divine Grace, and broke in pieces all his father's idols, and made mockery of their helplessness.
Afterwards when he bethought him of what he had done he feared his father's return and besought his Master Christ to nod approval of his deeds, break the bolts, and open the doors. "For it is for your sake", said he, "that I have thus suffered and thus acted. Even as I thus spoke," he told me, "out fell the bolts and open flew the doors, and back I ran to my instructress. She dressed me up in women's garments and took me with her in her covered carriage back to the divine Meletius. He handed me over to the bishop of Jerusalem, at that time Cyril, and we started by night for Palestine."
After the death of Julian this young man led his father also into the way of truth. This act he told me with the rest. So in this fashion these men were guided to the knowledge of God and were made partakers of Salvation.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
The Tell-Tale Heart is a 1953 American animated short film directed by Ted Parmelee and narrated by James Mason. The screenplay by Bill Scott and Fred Grable is based on the 1843 short story of the same title by Edgar Allan Poe.
The plot focuses on a murderer whose increasing guilt leads him to believe he can hear his victim's heart still beating beneath the floorboards where he buried him. Seen through the eyes of the nameless narrator, the surrealistic images in the film help convey his descent into madness.
Paul Julian served as both designer and color artist for film, and Pat Matthews was the principal animator.
October 24, 2011
A South African girl was in a coma Monday after being doused in petrol and burned alive in a Johannesburg park, in what police suspect was a satanic ritual, local media reported Monday. Provincial police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsingane said Theologo and her friend were tied up, doused with petrol, and set on fire as a "sacrifice". “What kind of a person does this?” the tearful mother asked. According to Theologo, she was told that the people who burnt Kirsty and Bronwyn had even joined Kirsty’s and Bronwyn’s church in a bid to befriend them.
Kirsty’s family said four young men had gone to an isolated hill with Kirsty and her friend Bronwyn. The two girls, who had been attending a youth service at their church, were offered alcohol that Kirsty spat out because it had tasted strange. Bronwyn, who is believed to have finished the alcohol, began vomiting. One of the men allegedly started dancing while Kirsty laughed. “Suddenly, she (Kirsty) felt wet and the dancing guy lit a match, threw it at her and said ‘laugh at this’,” said Kirsty’s mother, Sylvia Theologo.
While Kirsty was burning, one boy cut a third girl's hand and held it over a Bible so that the blood could soak it, according to one of the girls who was in the group, she told the Theologo family the boys had decided that the two would be sacrificed in a satanic ritual. As the flames engulfed her, her face and head were bashed with rocks and, as she tried to breathe, her throat and lungs were badly burnt. Kirsty suffered third and fourth degree burns both inside and outside her body. The teens were left to burn, after the group left, the girls managed to break free and walk 10 blocks home in their conditions the teenagers were driven to South Rand Hospital by their pastor.
"My sister had no skin left on her face, she had wounds to her head and and her nose had been crushed in," Theologo's sister, Samantha Saunders, told Eye Witness News. Kirsty Theologo is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday after 75 percent of her body was burned from the waist up, her sister, Samantha Theologo, told the local Daily News. Doctors are worried about Kirsty Theologo’s recovery, Samantha said, because her lungs and throat were damaged.
Kirsty’s mother said prayers and the support that the family had been receiving were keeping her strong. “It’s hectic. I couldn’t sleep… I’m praying. I just want my baby girl to be okay. She’s such a good girl. She’s gonna come back, she’ll bounce back. “I have people calling me from Greece, Portugal and America… The support has been really good,” said an emotional Theologo.
Meanwhile in Britain, authorities rescued at least 400 African children who were brought to the country often for use in blood rituals conducted by witch doctors, according to a report in the BBC earlier this month. The report cited a cultural belief in the power of human blood in so-called juju rituals.
"Our experience tells us that traffickers can be anybody. They can be people with power, people with money or people involved in witchcraft," Christine Beddoe, director of the anti-trafficking charity Epcat U.K., told the BBC. "Trafficking can involve witch doctors and other types of professionals in the community who are using those practices."