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Liturgy / Re: The Tablitho and the Antimension
« Last post by Mor Ephrem on Today at 06:38:54 PM »
Oh, how I hate liturgical plastic.

Yes, never seen that before.  I guess that is to seal in the Chrism used to anoint the altar?

I just assumed it was to protect least I hope so.
What a horrible thread this has become.
Other Topics / Re: Picture of the Day
« Last post by Antonious Nikolas on Today at 06:35:45 PM »
My gift is a printed Hawaiian T-Shirt Hola

Holla holla holla!
Religious Topics / Re: The theory that Jesus was a magician
« Last post by Alpha60 on Today at 06:33:30 PM »
In the first century, Pliny the Elder wrote about a sect of Jews who practiced magic. Moses was probably their greatest magician. Moses and Aaron had gained fame by tricks performed for the Pharaoh. The staff that became a snake when Aaron cast it on the ground was probably a known species of Egyptian cobra that can be made stiff and motionless by pressure in back of the head. The trick has been repeated by modern Egyptian wizards...

The second century Roman philosopher Cel(s)us is quoted in the writings of the early Christian apologist Origen as saying that Jesus learned the arts of magic on Egypt, and then returned to his own country with these acquired skills.

Magician turns a cane into a snake

The fourth-century Christian apologist Arnobius helpfully provides an additional detail in his description of the Jewish allegations by stating that Jesus was accused of stealing the ‘names of the angels of might’ from the Egyptian temples.

Origen quotes at length from Celsus’ fantastical description of the illusionary tricks and bizarre magical methods employed by these magicians:

‘‘who for a few obols make known their secret lore in the middle of the
market-place and drive out demons and blow away diseases and invoke the
souls of heroes, displaying expensive banquets and dining-tables and cakes
and dishes which are non-existent, and who make things move as though
they were alive although they are not really so, but only appear as such in
the imagination.’ And he says: ‘since these men do these wonders, ought
we to think them sons of God? Or ought we to say that they are the
practices of wicked men possessed by an evil demon?’’
Naturally, one answer could be that the magicians of Egypt were neither divine nor possessed, but charlatans.

Helen Ingram claims that sorcery and magic were legally prohibited in the Roman Empire, and so she claims that Jesus ordered some of His healed subjects to be silent about the healings when He used special healing techniques like incantations, that is, healing commands:
The sporadic nature of these secrecy commands suggests that Jesus demanded silence of certain patients on specific occasions. It certainly appears that the healing accounts in which the participants have been removed from public view and subsequently commanded to silence also involve unusual physical techniques which could be construed as having magical elements to them. For example, in Mk. 8:23 we have the application of spittle, in Mk. 5:40 there is the phrase ‘Talitha Koum’ and Mk. 7:33-34 describes an unusual combination of techniques in which Jesus spits, touches his tongue, looks up to heaven, sighs and utters a healing word. In each of these accounts, the patient has been removed from the crowd and there is a swift command to silence once the healing has been completed.[15] As the magician fears that the implicit magic in his techniques might lead to legal penalties, Jesus may have been aware that certain elements of his healing procedures could be interpreted by observers as magical techniques and thereby attract an ensuing punishment. Therefore the commands to silence may not have been to avoid a ‘messianic’ revelation, but to protect his physical techniques from incurring a charge of magic. This would account for why the secrecy theme is not strictly adhered to in every case and why the patient is occasionally removed from the crowd. Perhaps we must therefore interpret the commands given to Jesus’ patients not as ‘don’t tell anyone who I am’, but ‘don’t tell anyone what I did’.

Raising of Lazarus, Fresco, Catacomb cubiculum O, Rome, 4th century

Ingram has a webpage with about a dozen illustrations from early Christian art of Jesus and apostles performing miracles with what looks like a magic wand.

Although it is tempting to immediately claim that these artistic representations are valuable evidence that Jesus was considered to be a magician, we must first exhaust all other possible interpretations. For instance, is the wand used as a symbol of Jesus’ authority? This is highly unlikely as the scroll is employed for that very purpose on many other occasions and the wand does not appear in scenes which emphasise Jesus’ authority (see fig. 14). Alternatively, since many modern bible translations mention that ‘staffs’ are carried by the disciples (Mk. 6:8//Mt. 10:10//Lk. 9:3), could this wand simply be a walking-staff that is used by Jesus? Again this is unlikely as the wands do not appear randomly in scenes of Jesus’ life but only when a miracle is being performed. In many of these artistic representations the wands make contact with the object that is to be transformed, therefore they do not appear to be a superfluous or decorative element of Jesus’ appearance but they clearly have a functional purpose that is directly related to the performance of a miracle.

In her article she also sees a correlation between the use of youths dressed in burial shrouds in Greek necromancy rites and in the appearance of the unnamed youth in a sindon (burial shroud) in Gethsemane in Mark's gospel, who then appears at Jesus' empty tomb.

Of 414 total (early Christian art) scenes, we counted 68 where Jesus or Peter use wands to perform miracles. In a few other scenes, Moses and Ezekiel also use a wand to bring water from a stone or to resurrect dry bones. Also, very rarely, Jesus carries a wand but is not using it to conduct power by contact. Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that Jesus would use a wand. Some claim the wand is in fact a staff of authority, but on the sarcophagi the wand doesn't appear with Jesus in any role of authority. The meaning of a wand would have been completely unambiguous in ancient times; it was the primary symbol of magic in eastern and western art of the period. The wand is a common symbol of the Roman mystery cults - Mithraism in particular - whose savior-heroes, like Jesus, performed magic healing, and whose followers formed intense personal bonds with a savior-hero.
Of the scenes listed above, 196, or just under 50%, include Jesus. Seventy three (17%) depict Peter, who always uses a wand to perform his miracles. Of Jesus' miracles, about 45% include wand usage, and 1/3 involve healing by direct contact.

The Middle Ages are thought to be an age of wizards and magic. Medieval stories are filled with men like Merlin or saints who could perform incredible deeds. However, even medieval people liked the simpler magical tricks... A few books from the Middle Ages can tell us more about these magic tricks, such as the Secretum philosophorum, which was written by anonymous author at the beginning of the fourteenth-century.

To Give Water the Colour and Taste of Wine

The same cane be done in another way, so that the water appears to be turned into win, and this experiment is used by those conmen who wander about like pilgrims through the whole world; by this experiment many are convinced that God turns their water into wine. For, they take scraps of bread and put them in the wine which is called vin râpé, the wine which those sell wine use to colour the wines which have lost their colour. Now, when the scraps of bread have been well soaked in the said vin râpé, they dry them in the sun and carry them with them in their jewellery. And when they come to someone’s house, they say that they eat nothing but bread and water, and they ask for the bread and water, and they break the bread into pieces and put some of the said scraps into the water. And straight away the water takes on the colour and flavour of win, and so it is thought by many that this is a miracle.

This is to be rejected as the vile musings of anti-Christian trolls.  There is nothing to discuss here; this does not relate to the holy faith of the Orthodox Church but is purely a demonic skepticism.
Liturgy / Re: The Tablitho and the Antimension
« Last post by Deacon Lance on Today at 06:32:34 PM »
Oh, how I hate liturgical plastic.

Yes, never seen that before.  I guess that is to seal in the Chrism used to anoint the altar?
Other Topics / Re: Icon
« Last post by Mor Ephrem on Today at 06:29:40 PM »
How come Rublev didn't arrange the Trinity icon so that the Son was at the Father's right hand? 
Liturgy / Re: The Tablitho and the Antimension
« Last post by Mor Ephrem on Today at 06:26:40 PM »
Oh, how I hate liturgical plastic.
Convert Issues / Re: Ethnic themed festivals
« Last post by Mor Ephrem on Today at 06:23:16 PM »

I'm not Greek, but I am "ethnic" and attend "ethnic" parishes, I've done so for all my life.  I don't think Greeks are very different from Indians, however, so I think what I have to say may also apply to them and others.

When you look at an ethnic parish, what you see is a "club where people identify their ethnic background, gossip and mingle than anything else", a place to love one's "insular exotic heritage". 

But all they have done is immigrate to America and take their religion with them.  When they brought the faith here, they brought an entire system of worship, spirituality, art, music, theology, ecclesiastical culture, history, heroes, etc. that formed within a land, a language, and a culture and in turn formed and reformed that land, language, and culture.  The Church incarnates herself in a particular time and place just as her Head incarnated in a particular time and place.  We can identify what parts of Orthodox Christian tradition are invariable across time and space and which are not, but that doesn't mean there is some generic Orthodoxy and everything else is just fundraising fluff.  There's no such thing as a pure Orthodoxy unsullied by these distinctive, human, worldly elements.  The Church incarnates among peoples because it is people.  "Back home", the immigrants' culture is not an "insular exotic heritage", it's just the way they are.  They are no more exotic there than you are in America. 

When they brought their faith to this country, what were they supposed to do?  Reform their religion to reflect an American culture they barely knew or understood?  They would've made a mockery of both, and from the perspective of faith it would be suicidal to take a nearly two thousand year old tradition and tinker around with it to make it look more like something that even Americans have a hard time pinning down: American culture (singular). 

So they kept it the way they knew it, the way they received it, and passed it on that wayThat's Orthodoxy.  If you want Orthodoxy, sooner or later you're going to have to make peace with the fact that it came from somewhere else and came here looking like it. 

But that doesn't mean that the Church cannot incarnate here as it did there.  It can and it must, but that process takes time.  When my ancestors received the faith from another Galilean carpenter, they embraced a largely Jewish tradition that had little to do with the dominant religious cultures of their time and place.  Over time, that tradition evolved and became what it is now.  The Church has an institutional memory of how Orthodoxy incarnates among people.  That memory, which immigrants bring with them, however intuitively, can be of help to Americans who want to repeat that evolution here.  Orthodoxy will never take root here if Americans don't get off their high horses and learn how it took root "back home".  The lived experience of immigrants and the living Orthodox culture they bring with them is not something to be shunned or derided as so much non-Christian ethnic hubris.  It is a precious model from which to learn how to build the faith here. 

Can immigrant communities and parishes fall into unhealthy habits and settle for a status quo that keeps them insular and exotic, so tied to the past that they ignore the present and abort the future?  Yes.  I can start about a dozen threads about problems in ethnic churches, maybe more.  Any honest "ethnic" who cares about the faith will admit not all is perfect, will lament it with you, and will work with you to change it.  Some of us have been doing just that for many years without an AFR podcast, OCN blog, or Youtube videos to promote our efforts.  We have the scars and frustration to prove it. 

And for every person in our parishes who comes solely to celebrate his immigrant heritage (and, truth be told, there are fewer of them than the internet would have you believe), there are many more who are there for Christ.  Their culture is part of who they are, but they come for Christ.  The gospel is too heavy a burden to impose on people who just want to speak their language and eat curry, and there are clubs and cultural associations to join for those who only want that sort of thing.  Our people come to Church for Christ.  Maybe they don't say all their prayers or fast on the appropriate days.  Maybe they show up for Liturgy during Communion (and only once every one or two months) or don't know that "Job" is a book of the Bible and not just a three letter word for employment.  They have their faults, just like Americans.  But they come to Church for Christ.  And Christ can work with that.  I hope Americans can deign to work with that as well.   
Other Topics / Re: Random Postings
« Last post by Antonious Nikolas on Today at 06:17:56 PM »
Other than Hiywot and that Kaleab kid, I wonder if we've ever had any actual Ethiopian posters on these boards.  I know AmdeTsion was African-American and (Stay blessed!) HabteSelassie was a white dude.  So is Gebre, of course.  Have we had any people who were actually of Ethiopian descent other than the two I mentioned above?

I feel like I have a fuzzy memory of an Eritrean here at one point.

Yeah, he came around for about two days to troll the boards with doctored pictures of Haile Selassie watering marijuana plants to counter Gebre's (or someone's) call for His Majesty's glorification.  He was handed his backside fairly quickly and beat a hasty retreat.  I think Balthasar is a black British convert or something.
Christian News / Re: Romanian priest comes out as atheist
« Last post by Antonious Nikolas on Today at 06:15:11 PM »
I think the Question is why refer to "Church" and whether you have any real relation to it.

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