11 September 2017

Buy Delicious Scout Popcorn!

My oldest son is selling Popcorn to help pay his way for camping and other educational activities. Please consider supporting Scouting by purchasing some at http://www.popcornordering.com/Popcornordering/Store/Entry?keycode=3311354687 Everyone who bought last year said that they loved the popcorn and that it was some of the best popcorn that they have ever had. There is an option to donate popcorn to military members if you don't like this extra delicious popcorn.

03 September 2017

Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew for the Indiction and Day of Protection of the Environment

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Prot. No. 702

+BARTHOLOMEW
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plentitude of the Church: Grace, peace and mercy
From the Creator of All, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
(September 1, 2017/7526)

***

Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

With God’s grace, today we enter the new ecclesiastical year, even as we continue to provide witness “through him who loved us” (Romans 8.38) and “give an account for the hope that lies in us” (1 Peter 3.15), living in the Church, in Christ and according to Christ, who promised to be with us “all the days of our life, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28.20)

Twenty-eight years have passed since the synodal decree of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to establish the Feast of the Indiction as the “Day of Protection for the Environment,” when we offer prayers and supplications at the sacred Center of Orthodoxy “for all creation.” The relevant patriarchal encyclical (September 1, 1989) invited all Orthodox and other Christian faithful on this day to lift up prayers of thanksgiving to the Creator of all for “the great gift of Creation” along with petitions for its preservation.

We express our joy and satisfaction for the broad reception and fruitful influence of this initiative by the Church of Constantinople. We demonstrated the spiritual roots of the ecological crisis as well as the need to repent and prioritize the values of contemporary humankind. We affirmed that the exploitation and destruction of creation constitute a perversion and distortion of the Christian ethos, rather than the inevitable consequence of the biblical command to “increase and multiply” (Genesis 1.22), but also that our anti-ecological conduct is an offense to the Creator and a transgression of his commandments, ultimately working against the authentic destiny of the human person. There cannot be any sustainable development at the expense of spiritual values and the natural environment.

The Holy and Great Church of Christ has championed and continues to champion the eco-friendly dynamic of our Orthodox faith, emphasizing the Eucharistic purpose of creation, the response of the faithful as “priest” of creation in an effort to offer it unceasingly to the Creator of all, as well as the principle of asceticism as the response to the modern sense of gratification. Indeed, respect for creation belongs to the very core of our orthodox tradition.

We are especially disturbed by the fact that, while it is clear that the ecological crisis is constantly escalating, in the name of financial growth and technological development, humanity has become oblivious to the global appeals for radical change in our attitude toward creation. It is obvious that the resulting deformation and devastation of the natural environment is a direct consequence of a specific model of economic progress, which is nevertheless indifferent to its ecological repercussions. The short-term benefits dictated by the rise of living standards in some parts of the world simply camouflage the irrationality of abuse and conquest of creation. Corporate business that does not respect the planet as our common home cannot be sanctioned as business at all. The contemporary unrestrained commerce of globalization goes hand-in-hand with the spectacular development of science and technology, which despite manifold advantages is also accompanied by an arrogance over and abuse of nature. Modern man knows this very well, but acts as if he is entirely unaware. We know that nature is not restored and renewed endlessly; yet we ignore the negative implications of “trading” in the environment. This explosive combination of unrestrained commerce and science – that is to say, the limitless confidence in the power of science and technology – merely increases the risks threatening the integrity of creation and humankind.

The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church spelled out with wisdom and clarity the dangers of “autonomizing economy” or separating economy from the vital needs of humanity that are only served within a sustainable environment. Instead, it proposed an economy “founded on the principles of the Gospel”1 in order to address the modern ecological challenge “on the basis of the principles of the Christian tradition.”2 In response to the threats of our age, the tradition of the Church demands “a radical change of attitude and conduct”; in response to the ecological crisis, it proposes a spirit of asceticism, “frugality and abstinence”3; in response to our ”greed,”4 it calls for “the deification of our needs and attitude of acquisition.”5 The Holy and Great Council also emphatically referred to the “social dimensions and tragic consequences of destroying the natural environment.”6

Therefore, echoing the decisions of this Council, we too underline through this encyclical the close connection between ecological and social issues, as well as their common roots that lie in the “imprudent heart” that is fallen and sinful as well as in the inappropriate use of our God-given values,” by spiritual and ethical damage. When material possessions dominate our heart and mind, then our attitude toward our fellow human beings and toward creation inevitably becomes possessive and abusive. In biblical terms, the “bad tree” always “produces evil fruit.” (Matthew 7.17) Furthermore, by extension, we would underline that respecting creation and other people share the same spiritual source and origin, namely our renewal in Christ and spiritual freedom. Just as environmental destruction is related to social injustice, so too an eco-friendly attitude is inseparable from social solidarity.

What also becomes apparent is that the solution to the multi-faceted contemporary human crisis – namely, the crisis facing human culture and the natural environment – demands a multi-dimensional mobilization and joint effort. Much as every other vital problem, the underlying and interconnected ecological and social crisis cannot possibly be addressed without inter-Christian and inter-religious collaboration. Therefore, dialogue becomes the fertile ground for promoting existing ecofriendly and social traditions in order to stimulate environmental and communal discussion, while at the same time initiating a constructive criticism of progress understood exclusively in technological and economic terms at the expense of creation and civilization.

In closing, we once again reiterate the inseparable nature of respecting creation and humanity, and we call upon all people of good will to undertake the good struggle for the protection of the natural environment and the establishment of solidarity. May the Lord and giver of all good things, through the intercessions of the all-blessed Mother of God, grant all of you “a burning within your hearts for all creation”7 and “a stirring of love and good works.” (Hebrews 10.24)

+ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
_________________________________
1 Encyclical of the Holy and Great Council, paragraph 15.
2 Encyclical, paragraph 10.
3 “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World,” paragraph 10.
4 “The Mission,” paragraph 10.
5 Encyclical, paragraph 14.
6 Encyclical, paragraph 14.
7 Isaac the Syrian, Ascetical Treatises, Homily 81.

19 August 2017

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America's Response to the Racist & Extremist Violence in Charlottesville

The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America stands with all people of goodwill in condemning the hateful violence and lamenting the loss of life that resulted from the shameful efforts to promote racial bigotry and white supremacist ideology in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Orthodox Church emphatically declares that it does not promote, protect or sanction participation in such reprehensible acts of hatred, racism, and discrimination, and proclaims that such beliefs and behaviors have no place in any community based in respect for the law and faith in a loving God.
The essence of the Christian Gospel and the spirit of the Orthodox Tradition are entirely and self-evidently incompatible with ideologies that declare the superiority of any race over another. Our God shows no partiality or favoritism (Deuteronomy 10:17, Romans 2:11). Our Lord Jesus Christ broke down the dividing wall of hostility that had separated God from humans and humans from each other (Ephesians 2:14). In Christ Jesus, the Church proclaims, there can be neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or femalebut all are one (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, we call on one another to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). And what is darkness if not hatred? The one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness (1 John 2:11)!
Furthermore, in 1872, Hierarchs from around the world assembled in Constantinople and denounced all forms of xenophobia and phyletism. They agreed that the promotion of racial or national supremacy and ethnic bias or dissension in the Church of Christ is to be censured as contrary to the sacred teachings of the Christian Gospel and the holy canons of the Church. It is formally condemned as heresy, the strongest category of false teaching.
Finally, such actions as we have witnessed in recent days, by self-proclaimed white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and various racists and fascists, betray the core human values of love and solidarity. In this, we pray wholeheartedly for the families of those who lost their lives or suffered in these tragic events. In like manner, we cannot condone any form of revenge or retaliation by any group or individual. Therefore, we fervently appeal to every person of good will, and especially the leaders of our great nation, to consider and adopt ways of reconciling differences in order to rise above any and all discrimination in our history, our present, and our future.

The bishops of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America includes:

  • Geron Archbishop Demetrios of America
  • Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta
  • Metropolitan Antony of the East
  • Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico
  • Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey
  • Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco
  • Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York
  • Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
  • Metropolitan Joseph of North America
  • Metropolitan Joseph of the USA, Canada, and Australia
  • Metropolitan Methodios of Boston
  • Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit
  • Metropolitan Nikitas of Berkeley
  • Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh
  • Metropolitan Tikhon of America
  • Archbishop Benjamin of San Francisco
  • Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America
  • Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia
  • Archbishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh
  • Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey
  • Archbishop Nathaniel of America
  • Archbishop Nicolae of the Americas
  • Archbishop Nikon of New England
  • Archbishop Peter of Chicago and Mid-America
  • Bishop Alexander of Dallas and the South
  • Bishop Alexander of Ottawa, Eastern Canada and Upstate New York
  • Bishop Anthony of Toledo and the Midwest
  • Bishop Antoun of Miami and the Southeast
  • Bishop Basil of Wichita and Mid-America
  • Bishop Daniel of the West
  • Bishop David of Alaska
  • Bishop Demetrios of Chicago
  • Bishop Irinej of Eastern America
  • Bishop John of Caracas and South Americaa
  • Bishop John of Worcester and New England
  • Bishop Longin of New Gracanica-Midwestern America
  • Bishop Maxim of Western America
  • Bishop Nicholas of Brooklyn
  • Bishop Pankratij of Mexico
  • Bishop Paul of Chicago and the Midwest
  • Bishop Saba of North America
  • Bishop Thomas of Charleston, Oakland, and the Mid-Atlantic



Here are some of the Bible verses in context from the Assembly's statement (Old Testament quotes are from The Orthodox Study Bible and New Testament quotes are from The Orthodox New Testament, Volume Two):
Deuteronomy 10:17-19: For the Lord your God is the God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the resident aliens, for you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt. 
Galatians 3:26-29: For all are sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many as were baptized into Christ, ye put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. 
Ephesians 5:11-12: And cease having fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather even reprove them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 
1 John 2:9-11: The one who saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in the darkness until now. The one loving his brother abideth in the light, and there is not an occasion of stumbling in him. But the one hating his brother is in darkness, and walketh in the darkness, and knoweth not where he goeth, because the darkness blinded his eyes.

09 June 2017

The Biblical Stand Against Nagging, Arguing, or Being Angry (Especially With Your Spouse)

Do you nag your spouse? If so, then stop! Why? The Bible (both Old and New Testaments alike) clearly tells us not to.

Psalm 36(37):8 Cease from anger, and leave rage; have no emulation to do evil.

Proverbs 14:1 A wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish will pull down with her hands that also which is built.

Proverbs 14:29 He that is patient, is governed with much wisdom: but he that is impatient, exalteth his folly.

Proverbs 19:11 The learning of a man is known by patience and his glory is to pass over wrongs.

Proverbs 19:13 A foolish son is the grief of his father: and a wrangling wife is like a roof continually dropping through.

Proverbs 21:9 It is better to sit in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling women, and in a common house.

Proverbs 21:19 It is better to dwell in a wilderness, than with a quarrelsome and passionate woman.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Be not a friend to an angry man, and do not walk with a furious man: Lest perhaps thou learn his ways, and take scandal to thy soul.

Proverbs 25:8 The things which thy eyes have seen, utter not hastily in a quarrel: lest afterward thou mayst not be able to make amends, when thou hast dishonoured thy friend.

Proverbs 25:24 It is better to sit in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman, and in a common house.

Proverbs 27:15 Roofs dropping through in a cold day, and a contentious woman are alike.

Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: a wise man deferreth, and keepeth it till afterwards.

Ecclesiastes 7:8-10 Oppression troubleth the wise, and shall destroy the strength of his heart. Better is the end of a speech than the beginning. Better is the patient man than the presumptuous. Be not quickly angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of a fool.

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother without just cause shall be liable to the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca' shall be liable to the Sanhedrin, but whosoever shall say, 'Thou fool,' shall be liable to the fire of Gehenna.

Romans 12:14-18 Keep on blessing those who persecute you; keep on blessing, and not cursing. Be rejoicing with those who rejoice, and be weeping with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Mind not high things, but bring yourselves down to associate with the humble. Cease becoming wise in your own deceits. Render to no one evil for evil. Provide for yourselves right things before all men. If possible, as to that which depends on you, be at peace with all men.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 Love is long-suffering, is kind; love is not jealous; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up; doth not behave unseemly, seeking not its own, is not provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; covereth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, Love never falleth away. But whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether tongues, they shall cease; whether knowledge, it shall be done away.

Ephesians 4:26-27  Be ye angry, and sin not. Let not the sun set upon your provocation. Cease giving place to the devil.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let not any rotten speech proceed from your mouth, but if any, such that is good for building up, as the need may be, in order that it may give grace to those who hear. And cease grieving the Holy Spirit of God, in Whom ye were sealed until a day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and anger, and wrath, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice; and keep on becoming kind to one another, compassionate, graciously forgiving one another, even as God in Christ also graciously forgave you.

Ephesians 5:22-25 Wives, be subordinating yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also the Christ is head of the Church, and is Himself Saviour of the body. But even as the CHurch subordinates herself to the Christ, so also the wives to their husbands in everything. Husbands be loving your own wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her.

Colossians 3:8 But now ye also put off from yourselves all these things: wrath, anger, malice, blasphemy, foul language out of your mouth.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore be comforting one another and building up one another, even as also ye do.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 Now we exhort you, brethren, be admonishing the disorderly, be consoling the faint-hearted, be supporting the weak, be longsuffering toward all. See ye that no one render evil for evil to anyone, but always be pursuing the good both toward one another and toward all.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 Do not rebuke an elder, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, elder women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.

Iakovos (James) 1:19-21 Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for man's wrath doth not work out God's righteousness. Wherefore lay aside all filthiness and surplus of wickedness, and receive in meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

Iakovos (James) 1:26 If anyone among you seem to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, the religion of this one is vain.

Iakovos (James) 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the world of injustice. So the tongue, the one which defileth the body, is being set in our members and setteth on fire the wheel of birth; and it is set on fire by Gehenna.

Iakovos (James) 4:11 Cease speaking against one another, brethren. He who speaketh against a brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law. But if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. One is the Lawgiver and Judge, Who is able to save and destroy. But who art thou who judgest another?

1 Peter 3:10-12 For the one who doth wish to love life and to see good days, let him stop his tongue from evil and do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are toward their entreaty; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

1 Peter 4:8-9 And before all things have fervent love among yourselves, for "love shall cover a multitude of sins." Be hospitable to one another, without murmurings.

Verses from the Books of the Old Covenant/Testament are from the Douay-Rheims Holy Bible, except for the Psalms, which are from The Orthodox Psalter: The Psalterion of the Prophet and King David According to the Seventy, with the Nine Odes and Commentary. Verses from the Books of the New Covenant/Testament are from the The Orthodox New Testament Volume 1: Evangelistarion - The Holy Gospels and The Orthodox New Testament: Volume 2: Praxapostolos - Acts, Epistles, and Revelation

12 May 2017

HOW-TO: Get Amazon Prime for FREE!

For a very limited time, Amazon is giving away 30 days of Amazon Prime for FREE at https://goo.gl/gJYYHK

Students can get 6 months of Amazon Prime for FREE, then HALF PRICE for the next 6 months if they continue by signing up at https://goo.gl/gJYYHK

They are also allowing you to give the gift of Amazon Prime to others for only $5 at https://goo.gl/Jw6ZT8

Why would you want to get Amazon Prime? Here's a few reasons:

Free Two-Day Shipping with Amazon Prime

Need a last minute gift? Can’t get out of the house? Realize you forgot to pick up something? With FREE Two-Day Shipping and more from Amazon Prime, your shopping problems are solved. You get unlimited deliveries with no minimum order size, and with millions of eligible items, the options are practically limitless. When shipping to select metro areas, Prime members also get FREE Same-Day Delivery on over a million items and FREE 2-hour delivery with Prime Now on daily essentials and groceries. With FREE release-date delivery on pre-order items, you can enjoy highly anticipated books, movies, and video games as soon as possible.

Prime includes popular movies and TV shows

Make every night a movie night with Prime Video. Your Prime membership includes instant access to thousands of movies and TV shows at no additional cost. Catch Amazon Original Series like Golden Globe-winning Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, and Goliath, Emmy-winning Man in the High Castle, or exciting and wildly popular The Grand Tour. Stream on Smart TVs, Roku, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, iPhones, Chromeboxes, PCs, laptops, tablets, and Android devices. Download entertainment to your device to watch offline anywhere.

Unlimited reading on any device

Prime Reading gives you unlimited access to over a thousand books, current issue magazines, books with Audible narration, comics, Kindle Singles, and more. With access from any device – including your phone, tablet, or Kindle – you can read however you want, whenever you want.

Unlimited listening to original audio series

Get hooked on original audio series from Audible: hunt for clues with intrepid investigators, think big with bold visionaries, or ‘keep it real’ with fearless comedians. Listen to insightful and engaging playlists handcrafted for every interest and refreshed daily, drawing from news, comedy shows, articles, talks and more. Whether you want to turn rush hour into an adventure with a great story or master a new topic while riding the train, your commute will never be the same. Audible Channels–from Audible, a world leader in audio entertainment.

Free unlimited photo storage

Your Prime membership comes with free unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos, which lets you securely save as many photos as you like and see them on your phone, computer, or tablet. You can share this Prime benefit and give free photo storage to up to five family members or friends. Collect photos together with your invited family and friends in the Family Vault and store memories from everyone in one safe place. New photo search technology makes it easy to find specific photos by searching for things like “sunset” or “Seattle,” and your photos are organized automatically so it’s easy to find and enjoy them.

30-minute early access to select Amazon Lightning Deals

Consider yourself a techie, the best-styled fashionista on the block, or just an everyday savvy shopper? Be among the first to decide what's hot and what's not. Get 30-minute early access to Lightning Deals on Amazon. Try it today for FREE at https://goo.gl/gJYYHK!

02 May 2017

HOW-TO: Find Orthodox Summer Camps for Summer and Winter in America

Every Summer, parents look for (spiritually, physically, and mentally) healthy, enlightening, and educational activities for their children. In order to help with that, I have done my best to find all the Orthodox Christian Camps available for Orthodox Youth in America. I have also added them to one of the side sections of my blog as well. I hope parents and grandparents find these useful. If I have missed any Orthodox Camps, please let me know in the comments below with their name, location, and website, so that I can add them to both lists!

ARIZONA
CALIFORNIA
COLORADO
CONNECTICUT
GEORGIA
IDAHO
ILLINOIS
INDIANA
IOWA
KANSAS
KENTUCKY
MARYLAND
MICHIGAN
MINNESOTA
NEW HAMPSHIRE
NEW JERSEY
NEW MEXICO
NEW YORK
OHIO
OKLAHOMA
OREGON
PENNSYLVANIA
SOUTH CAROLINA
TEXAS
WASHINGTON
WISCONSIN

01 May 2017

Other Interesting Blog Stats

While my blog's audience is definitely mostly American, here are the top 15 countries that my visitors are from:

  1. United States of America
  2. Russia
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. France
  6. Canada
  7. India
  8. Ukraine
  9. China
  10. Australia
  11. Romania
  12. Ireland
  13. Singapore
  14. South Korea
  15. Macedonia
Here are the top 7 browsers they use:
  1. Microsoft Internet Explorer
  2. Google Chrome
  3. Mozilla Firefox
  4. Apple Safari
  5. Opera
  6. Samsung Browser
  7. Lynx
Here are the top 7 Operating Systems used to access this blog:
  1. Microsoft Windows
  2. Apple Macintosh (Mac OS X)
  3. Apple iPhone (iOS)
  4. Google Android
  5. Linux
  6. Unix
  7. Blackberry
Here are the top referring sites to my blog: 
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