Cattle Drive, Fort Worth Stockyards, April 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Blog is Moving

I have decided to move my blog to my own server and domain and use WordPress to give me better moderation tools. Setting up this move has taken several days and because of that and some other tasks, I have not been able to post lately because of it. I apologize for the inconvenience that this may cause but I hope that you will create a new bookmark and follow over there.

The new site is at:

Thank you for your patience and I'll see you over there!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The "Ground Zero Mosque"

From a blog that I try to keep up with I reprint this article. There may be some of you at St. George that will not like this, but I happen to agree whole-heartedly with Fr. Zuhlsdorf on this. I don't desire to live under an Islamic rule for an instant, and so I don't respond favorably to any move that would try to promote Sharia law or Islam here. There is freedom of worship in the US, but in spite of it's name, I don't believe that Islam is peaceful or simply about submission to God. I believe it's about submission to Islam. As a Christian, that won't work for me. Prepare a cross, because I won't change my mind or heart on this one.

Ground Zero Mosque: a “Rabat”, not a “Cultural Center”

CATEGORY: The DrillThe future and our choices — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 9:35 am
Some time ago, at the recommendation of the great Fr. Welzbacher of St. Paul, I read Andrew McCarthy’s The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.  It was an excellent preparation, or propaedeutic, for the controversy over the proposal to build the mosque complex at Ground Zero in Manhattan.  And, yes, I think 51 Park Place qualifies as "ground zero" in the sense that landing gear from one of the airplanes struck the building. 

As I listened and read about the "Cordoba House" proposal something about it sounded familiar.  McCarthy described how militant Islamists of the Brotherhood developed centers for young muslim men which included an athletic program component.  The nickle dropped.  (Cf. Chapter 4. "Eliminating and Destroying the Western Civilization from Within".)

Today over breakfast coffee… I saw in the New York Post an article by Amir Taheri, which you should know about. 
Amir Taheri is author of 11 books on the Middle East, Iran and Islam.

Let’s have a look with my emphases and comments.

Islam center’s eerie echo of ancient terror


Last Updated: 8:35 AM, September 10, 2010

Should there be a mosque near Ground Zero? In fact, what is pro posed is not a mosque—nor even an "Islamic cultural center."

In Islam, every structure linked to the faith and its rituals has a precise function and character. A mosque is a one-story gallery built around an atrium with a mihrab (a niche pointing to Mecca) and one, or in the case of Shiites two, minarets.

Other Islamic structures, such as harams, zawiyyahs, husseinyiahs and takiyahs, also obey strict architectural rules. Yet the building used for spreading the faith is known as Dar al-Tabligh, or House of Proselytizing.

[NB] This 13-story multifunctional structure couldn’t be any of the above.

The groups fighting for the project know this; this is why they sometimes call it an Islamic cultural center. But there is no such thing as an Islamic culture.

Islam is a religion, not a culture. Each of the 57 Muslim-majority nations has its own distinct culture—and the Bengali culture has little in common with the Nigerian. Then, too, most of those countries have their own cultural offices in the US, especially in New York.

Islam is an ingredient in dozens of cultures, not a culture on its own.

In theory, at least, the culture of American Muslims should be American. Of course, this being America, each ethnic community has its distinct cultural memories—the Iranians in Los Angeles are different from the Arabs in Dearborn.

[Start taking notes if you have to…] In fact, the proposed structure is known in Islamic history as a rabat—literally a connector. The first rabat appeared at the time of the Prophet.

The Prophet imposed his rule on parts of Arabia through a series of ghazvas, or razzias (the origin of the English word "raid"). The ghazva was designed to terrorize the infidels, convince them that their civilization was doomed and force them to submit to Islamic rule. Those who participated in the ghazva were known as the ghazis, or raiders.

After each ghazva, the Prophet ordered the creation of a rabat—or a point of contact at the heart of the infidel territory raided. The rabat consisted of an area for prayer, a section for the raiders to eat and rest and facilities to train and prepare for future razzias[The "athletic" component I alluded to earlier.] Later Muslim rulers used the tactic of ghazva to conquer territory in the Persian and Byzantine empires. After each raid, they built a rabat to prepare for the next razzia.

[NB:] It is no coincidence that Islamists routinely use the term ghazva to describe the 9/11 attacks against New York and Washington. The terrorists who carried out the attack are referred to as ghazis or shahids (martyrs).

[CONCLUSION:] Thus, building a rabat close to Ground Zero would be in accordance with a tradition started by the Prophet. To all those who believe and hope that the 9/11 ghazva would lead to the destruction of the American "Great Satan," this would be of great symbolic value.

[Shift gears.] Faced with the anger of New Yorkers, the promoters of the project have started calling it the Cordoba House, echoing President Obama’s assertion that it would be used to propagate "moderate" Islam.

The argument is that Cordoba, in southern Spain, was a city where followers of Islam, Christianity and Judaism lived together in peace and produced literature and philosophy.

In fact, Cordoba’s history is full of stories of oppression and massacre, prompted by religious fanaticism. It is true that the Muslim rulers of Cordoba didn’t force their Christian and Jewish subjects to accept Islam. However, non-Muslims could keep their faith and enjoy state protection only as dhimmis (bonded ones) by paying a poll tax in a system of religious apartheid.

If whatever peace and harmony that is supposed to have existed in Cordoba were the fruit of "Muslim rule," [NB:] thesubtext is that the United States would enjoy similar peace and harmony under Islamic rule.  [That is why "Cordoba" was chosen: to symbolize the goal of subjugation of the USA to Sharia Law.]

rabat in the heart of Manhattan would be of great symbolic value to those who want a high-profile, "in your face" projection of Islam in the infidel West.

This thirst for visibility is translated into increasingly provocative forms of hijab, notably the niqab (mask) and the burqa. The same quest mobilized hundreds of Muslims in Paris the other day to close a whole street so that they could have a Ramadan prayer in the middle of the rush hour[These open demonstrations are escalating.]

One of those taking part in the demonstration told French radio that the aim was to "show we are here." "You used to be in our capitals for centuries," he said. "Now, it is our turn to be in the heart of your cities."

Before deciding whether to support or oppose the "Cordoba" project, New Yorkers should consider what it is that they would be buying.

Sunday School

Fall is gearing up in parishes now and so is Sunday School. And this will call all of us to some decisions about how time and how we will use it. Let me address the practical first. We should all endeavor to have our children in class every Sunday of the school year. We should also be diligent about being present and on time for the Divine Liturgy every Sunday (starting time is at 10:00am).

Our teachers work very hard to teach our parish children, who are not merely the future of the parish, they are part of the parish right now. Our teachers plan and prepare before every class so that they can give the Faith to our children. It is very little to ask that our parents have the children present so that they can receive a better understanding of this precious Faith.

We must also allow the teachers to keep their children until 12:00pm, or until the class is finished, every Sunday. Parents, don't pull your children out of class because you have made other plans for your Sunday afternoon. There is nothing more important that giving the Faith to these kids. Parents, please keep your children who may have been released from peering in the windows and distracting classes that are still meeting. If we wish to have a faithful community of believers for years to come, then we must allow the teachers their classroom time and get our children to class.

But even more important than Sunday School is the Divine Liturgy. Our Lord gave us a commandment to "do this" regarding the Divine Liturgy, the Holy Eucharist. We are required to offer this Eucharist every week. There is no such command for Sunday School. All of the faithful, and this includes baptized infants, are to be present at the Liturgy every Sunday. This allows us to have all of our young boys take turns serving at the altar, and to have different people read the epistle. But folks need to be present on time for this to happen.

Now, just a little history about Sunday School because it helps to place it in its proper place. Sunday School is a pretty new program in the life of the Church. It was "invented" in the Church of England in the 1800s to teach young Welsh children of coal miners how to read. It was taken up by the Methodists and Non-conformists (other Protestants) to indoctrinate their children in their version of Christianity. The original time to have these classes was not Sunday, but Saturday and they lasted several hours. Soon among various Protestant groups it was moved to Sunday as a way to entice families to come on Sunday (since there was something specifically planned for the children).

Orthodoxy didn't know anything at all about Sunday School until it came to the United States, and then it adopted the program for itself in the early 1900s, but we now tend to think of this as part of "the Tradition." It's not. It's a local custom. There is no such thing in Russia or Greece, I'm not sure about the Middle East. The ideal would be to have a parochial school where the Faith is taught as a serious course and which children receive a grade (requiring their effort) in addition to mandatory periods of catechism. This would give us children who knew their faith but we don't do this. Historically the Church insisted that parents taught the children their faith but parents rarely speak about such things with their children any longer, so we are left with a program that is less than ideal but which we have invested as being our only answer.

So let us not waste it, if that's all we are willing to do to hand over our Faith. Make certain your children are there. Make certain they are in the Liturgy. Give them the Faith so that they can keep it all of their lives. If they say, "I don't like it," make them go anyway. Wouldn't you make them go to public school even if they didn't like it? Isn't the Faith of Christ more important?

Sunday School starts September 19th, so let's get it going full swing with everyone. Let us commit to this work so that we can give the Faith to another generation and thereby spread salvation and joy a little further.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Liturgical Books (Why I work on them)

This will probably surprise a lot of people, but there is a sense that I don't like spending so many hours typesetting and preparing liturgical books. I say this on the heels of having completed typesetting Bp. Basil's The Liturgikon for the Antiochian Archdiocese and having seen it through the printing. I have worked on other books for the Archdiocese as well.

I have also heard, through a friend who was present, that one of our bishops commented in front of a large group of my brother priests that I am not a good editor. I admit to it wholeheartedly (please forgive me your Grace). I've never claimed any expertise in that area and have always tried to find people who would proof and edit the work I've done (but unfortunately there have been very few who are willing to do this important task). I am a graphic designer. I work very hard to make liturgical books look beautiful and functional. This in itself is a worthy task.

But, as I began, I'd actually rather not have to do it. I'd rather simply focus on parish life. So why do I do it? Because it must be done. There are so many liturgical books that need to be prepared and published for parishes to be able to fully do their work and no one else seems to be stepping up to that task. The Archdiocese certainly has asked me to do that work. And I have done some other work voluntarily because of the great need.

I suppose the ultimate reason that I work so hard to produce beautiful liturgical books, is that I so deeply desire to go to the Altar of God and pray. I desire to have a book that is simple to use, so I don't have to concentrate on certain items, but be entirely free in prayer. Having said this, I am one who just before his ordination to the priesthood spent at least two hours a day for two weeks at my seminary's chapel working on my rubrics, so that I would have them down before my first liturgy. I did the same to learn the rubrics of the Western Rite as a priest--I knew them already for every other part from torchbearer to subdeacon. I'm not referring to being disciplined in ceremonial, but the freedom that comes when the rubrics are internalized and the liturgical books are designed in such a way that they don't create friction. This to me would be freedom to pray, to simply let go of everything and enter into the moment of the Sacrifice of the Altar. I also believe that this would be the greatest work that I could do for my parish--because I could then offer them in that Sacrifice like never before.

The beauty of the book is needful if only because everything associated with the worship of the beautiful God must somehow reflect something of his glory and beauty. As I typeset books, my heart tries to move to the Altar and do my work there. This is a spiritual work of love, mercy and sacrifice.

Would that I could work on other things. But there are so many books left to do before I can rest, before I can be truly free in love with Christ our Lord.