23 December 2012

2012 Nativity Encyclical of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople

Protocol Number 1124


By the Mercy of God Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome
And Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church
Grace, Mercy and Peace
From the Savior Christ Born in Bethlehem

* * *

“Christ is born, glorify Him; Christ is on earth, exalt Him.”

Let us rejoice in gladness for the ineffable condescension of God.The angels precede us singing: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will among all people.”

Yet, on earth we behold and experience wars and threats of wars. Still, the joyful announcement is in no way annulled. Peace has truly come to earth through reconciliation between God and people in the person of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, however, we human beings have not been reconciled, despite God’s sacred will. We retain a hateful disposition for one another. We discriminate against one another by means of fanaticism with regard to religious and political convictions, by means of greed in the acquisition of material goods, and through expansionism in the exercise of political power. These are the reasons why we come into conflict with one another.

With his Decree of Milan issued in 313AD, the enlightened Roman emperor, St. Constantine the Great, instituted freedom in the practice of the Christian faith, alongside freedom in the practice of every other religion. Sadly, with the passing since then of precisely 1700 years, we continue to see religious persecution against Christians and other Christian minorities in various places.

Moreover, economic competition is spreading globally, as is the pursuit of ephemeral profit, which is promoted as a principal target. The gloomy consequences of the over-concentration of wealth in the hands of the few and the financial desolation of the vast human masses are ignored. This disproportion, which is described worldwide as a financial crisis, is essentially the product of a moral crisis. Nevertheless, humankind is regrettably not attributing the proper significance to this moral crisis. In order to justify this indifference, people invoke the notion of free trade. But free trade is not a license for crime. And criminal conduct is far more than what is recorded in penal codes. It includes what cannot be foreseen by the prescription of statutory laws, such as the confiscation of people’s wealth by supposedly legitimate means. Inasmuch, therefore, as the law cannot be formally imposed, the actions of a minority of citizens are often expressed in an unrestrained manner, provoking disruption in social justice and peace.

From the Ecumenical Patriarchate, then, we have been closely following the “signs of the times,” which everywhere echo the “sounds” of “war and turmoil” – with “nation rising against nation, dominion against dominion, great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues, alongside dreadful phenomena and heavenly portents.” (Luke 21.10-12) In many ways, we are experiencing what St. Basil wrote about “the two types of love: one is feeling sorrow and concern upon seeing one’s beloved harmed; the other is rejoicing and striving to benefit one’s beloved. Anyone who demonstrates neither of these categories clearly does not love one’s brother or sister. (Basil the Great, Shorter Rules, PG31.1200A) This is why, from this sacred See and Center of Orthodoxy, we proclaim the impending new year as the Year of Global Solidarity.

It is our hope that in this way we may be able to sensitize sufficient hearts among humankind regarding the immense and extensive problem of poverty and the need to assume the necessary measures to comfort the hungry and misfortunate.

As your spiritual father and church leader, we ask for the support of all persons and governments of good will in order that we may realize the Lord’s peace on earth – the peace announced by the angels and granted by the infant Jesus. If we truly desire this peace, which transcends all understanding, we are obliged to pursue it palpably instead of being indifferent to the spiritual and material vulnerability of our brothers and sisters, for whom Christ was born.

Love and peace are the essential features of the Lord’s disciples and of every Christian. So let us encourage one another during this Year of Global Solidarity to make every conscious effort – as individuals and nations – for the reduction of the inhumane consequences created by the vast inequalities as well as the recognition by all people of the rights of the weakest among us in order that everyone may enjoy the essential goods necessary for human life. Thus, we shall indeed witness – at least to the degree that it is humanly possible – the realization of peace on earth.
Together with all of material and spiritual creation, we venerate the nativity of the Son and Word of God from the Virgin Mary, bowing down before the newborn Jesus – our illumination and salvation, our advocate in life – and wondering like the Psalmist “Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid?” (Ps. 26.1) as Christians, since “to us is born today a savior” (Luke 2.11), “the Lord of hosts, the king of glory.” (Ps. 23.10)

We hope earnestly and pray fervently that the dawning 2013 will be for everyone a year of global solidarity, freedom, reconciliation, good will, peace and joy. May the pre-eternal Word of the Father, who was born in a manger, who united angels and human beings into one order, establishing peace on earth, grant to all people patience, hope and strength, while blessing the world with the divine gifts of His love. Amen.

At the Phanar, Christmas 2012
Your fervent supplicant before God
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople

開明的羅馬君王聖君士坦丁大帝(St. Constantine the Great),在西元313年頒訂的米蘭諭令(the Decree of Milan)中,確立了信仰基督的自由,以及信仰其他宗教的自由。悲哀的是,從古至今,正好經歷了1700年,我們仍舊看見對基督徒的宗教迫害,包括迫害各地屬於少數群體的基督徒。
普世宗主教聖統密切注意著「時候的預兆」(signs of the times),各地都回響著「聽見打仗和擾亂的事」-「民要攻打民,國要攻打國;地要大大震動,多處必有饑荒、瘟疫,又有可怕的異象和大神蹟從天上顯現」(路21:10~12)。在許多方面,我們正在經歷St. Basil所寫的「兩種愛:一種看見所愛之人受傷時感到悲傷和擔憂,另一種歡喜勤奮地利益所愛之人。任何人若未顯現任何一種愛,明顯地,並不愛弟兄姊妹」(Basil the Great, Shorter Rules, PG31.1200A)。因此,發自正教會的聖座和中心,我們宣布即將來臨的新年為全球團結年(the Year of Global Solidarity)。

                                        於Phanar, 2012聖誕節

17 November 2012

Saint Cyril, Saint Cyril, and Saint Cyril

Cyril, Patriarch of Jerusalem
March 18, May 7
This Saint was born in 315, and succeeded Maximus as Archbishop of Jerusalem in 350. He was zealous for the Orthodox Faith, and was a defender of the poor. He was exiled three times by the Arian Emperors Constantius and Valens. But after their death, he was recalled to his throne; he reposed in peace in 386. Of his writings, the most prominent are his catechetical lectures, which are considered the most ancient systematic summary of Christian teaching. Before Saint Cyril, there had been two dioceses, one of Jerusalem, and one of Holy Sion; under Saint Cyril, they were united into one bishopric.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
A model of faith and the image of gentleness, the example of your life has shown you forth to your sheep-fold to be a master of temperance. You obtained thus through being lowly, gifts from on high, and riches through poverty. Cyril, our father and priest of priests, intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion in the First Tone
Thy speech inspired of God hath enlightened thy people to honour the One God, undivided in essence, yet known and distinguished in His Three Persons, the Trinity. Wherefore, with great joy we keep thy holy remembrance, and we have thee as our intercessor, wise Cyril, to pray unto God for us.

Methodius & Cyril, Equal-to-the Apostles Illuminators of the Slavs
February 14, May 11
Born in Thessalonica, Saint Methodius was a military man before becoming a monk on Mount Olympus. Saint Cyril was born with the name Constantine in Thessaloniki in the early 9th century to pious parents. His family was one of only a few Byzantines in Thessaloniki at that time since it was largely populated by Slavs. Growing up in this situation, Cyril learned the Slavonic language, which later in life would serve him and the Church at large. He continued his education in Constantinople with his brother Methodius (see May 11th), each taking to their particular interests: Methodius in politics, and Cyril in philosophy and teaching. 

Constantine, known as the Philosopher because of his erudition, was Librarian at the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople; he later became a monk with the name of Cyril. The Emperor Michael sent him with his brother Methodius to the Khazars in response to their petition for teachers to expound to them the Christian Faith. On their way, they stayed in Cherson, where they recovered from the Black Sea the relics of Saint Clement of Rome. 

The two brothers were approached in 850 by Saint Photios the Great (see February 6th) to lead a diplomatic mission to the Khazars, the people who inhabited the western shore of the Caspian Sea. Cyril and Methodius accepted this mission and departed to the North. After the success of this trip, the brothers lived for a time in a monastery on Mount Olympus where Methodios became a monk. At this time the brothers utilized their childhood Slavonic education to develop a written alphabet for the Slavonic language, which to this time had never existed. This alphabet became known as the Glagolitic Alphabet. On their own instigation, the brothers began translating the Gospels and liturgical service books into Slavonic.

Later, they were called by Prince Rostislav of Moravia to instruct his people in the Orthodox Faith (Saint Rostislav died a martyr's death and is celebrated Oct. 15). In their apostolic labours throughout the Balkans, the holy brothers were slandered by certain Germanic bishops who opposed the use of the vernacular in the church services. After five years of service, the brothers made their way to Rome in 867 to have members of their company ordained to the priesthood to aid in the missionary journey. The presented their Slavonic translations to Pope Adrian II, who received them with love and full approval. The group of missionaries celebrated the Divine Liturgy in Rome in the Slavonic language for the very first time with members of their party being ordained as they intended. Two years later, Saint Cyril reposed in Rome on February 14 and was buried in the Church of Saint Clement. 

Saint Methodius was made Bishop of Moravia, but at the intrigues of certain Latin clergy, was cast into prison by the "Holy Roman Emperor" (the Germanic Emperor of the West), where he was cruelly tormented for some three years. In 874, through the defense of Pope John VIII, he was freed and made Archbishop of Moravia. Because he reproved the lax morals of the German priests in Moravia, he was soon accused of heresy by them, and was forbidden to celebrate the Liturgy in Slavonic. Summoned to Rome again in 879, he was completely exonerated and allowed once again to use the Slavonic tongue for the divine services. He reposed on April 6, 885.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Since ye were equal in character to the Apostles, and teachers of the Slavic lands, O divinely-wise Cyril and Methodius, pray to the Lord of all to strengthen all nations in Orthodoxy and unity of thought, to convert and reconcile the world to God, and to save our souls.

Kontakion in the Third Tone
Let us honour our sacred pair of enlighteners, who, by translating the divine writings, have poured forth for us a well-spring of divine knowledge from which we draw abundantly even unto this day: We call you blessed, O Cyril and Methodius, ye that stand before the throne of the Most High and intercede fervently for our souls.

Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria
January 18, June 9
On June 8 day we commemorate Saint Cyril's falling asleep. On January 18 we commemorate the occasion of the Saint's restoration to his see in Alexandria after he had suffered a brief exile because of the machinations of the Nestorians. Shortly thereafter the Third Ecumenical Council was convoked in Ephesus and the blasphemous doctrine of Nestorius was condemned. 

Saint Cyril was from Alexandria, born about the year 376. He was the nephew of Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who also instructed the Saint in his youth. Having first spent much time with the monks in Nitria, he later became the successor to his uncle's throne in 412. In 429, when Cyril heard tidings of the teachings of the new Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, he began attempting through private letters to bring Nestorius to renounce his heretical teaching about the Incarnation. When the heresiarch did not repent, Saint Cyril, together with Pope Celestine of Rome, led the Orthodox opposition to his error. Saint Cyril presided over the Third Ecumenical Council of the 200 Holy Fathers in the year 431, who gathered in Ephesus under Saint Theodosius the Younger. At this Council, by his most wise words, he put to shame and convicted the impious doctrine of Nestorius, who, although he was in town, refused to appear before Patriarch Cyril. Saint Cyril, besides overthrowing the error of Nestorius, has left to the Church full commentaries on the Gospels of Luke and John. Having shepherded the Church of Christ for thirty-two years, he reposed in 444.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
You are a guide of Orthodoxy, a teacher of piety and modesty, a luminary of the world, the God inspired pride of monastics. O wise Cyril, you have enlightened everyone by your teachings. You are the harp of the Spirit. Intercede to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Thou with the power of Christ Saviour's divine words didst rend asunder all the webs of the heresies and didst enrich the Church by cutting down the tares of profane Nestorius, O our blest Father Cyril; wherefore, in Christ's presence now with the choirs of the Angels thou intercedest fervently with Him to grant forgiveness of failings to all of us.

31 October 2012

No more Thomas and Friends here!?!

It was a beautiful day on the Island of Sodor...

For the sake of separation, prompted by the complaints of my dear friend and fellow Orthodox Christian blogger, Juvenaly Joseph Michael Martinka, I will be moving all past, present, and future scathing reviews of the English Children's TV series and movie series, "Thomas and Friends" to a blog specifically for that located at http://steamiesvsdiesels.blogspot.com/. I hope you will visit it and enjoy the controversy that it will be sure to create.

Travel with me to the Island of Sodor, a land of racist steam engines who hate the far-superior diesel engines...

15 October 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine and His Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part Four: Misty Island Rescue

UPDATE: This post has been completely rewritten, expanded upon, and updated thoroughly HERE. I highly recommend you read that post instead of this one.

Another movie review, again with looking at the views of "Steamies" vs. Diesels. But why do I like the diesels? Maybe because I grew up in a railroad family where all the trains were diesels.

Trains like the Burlington Northern 6481 were on calendars, shirts, etc. that my father brought home from work.

I have respect for steam engines, and they are definitely the prototypical look people think of with trains, but diesels are important for commerce and an advance in technology that should be respected too.

Once again the review comes from the Sodor Island Fan Site and is tweaked to be from the view of the diesels.

You can find Part One at https://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2012/09/thomas-tank-engine-and-his-racist.html

Part Two is at https://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2012/09/thomas-tank-engine-and-his-racist_28.html

Part Three is at https://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2012/10/thomas-tank-engine-and-his-racist.html

The Sodor Search & Rescue Center is under construction – ready to be the new home to Harold the Helicopter, Rocky the Crane and Captain the Lifeboat. The Fat Controller is especially proud of the new building and tells Thomas and the others that it will be made out of the finest wood of all – ‘Jobi Wood’, which is being brought in from Hiro’s home island. Thomas and Percy are mesmerized by the beauty of the wood as it waits to be unloaded at the Docks.

As Cranky is unloading the Jobi Wood at Brendam Docks, Hiro explains why the wood is so special – being so strong that no wind can blow it down, and being so rare that it only exists on one or two islands throughout the world. Therefore, it becomes an extra special honor to pull it to the Rescue Center at the end of the day for the most useful engine.

All of the engines want the honor of pulling the Jobi logs, even Diesel. But racist Thomas isn't convinced that Sir Topham Hatt would want Diesel to pull the Jobi logs – he’s far more convinced it will be a ‘Really Useful Steam Engine’ who will do the job. This upsets Diesel – he knows that he and the other Diesels are just as useful as the Steam Engines, and in an attempt to prove Thomas wrong, he decides to shunt the Jobi logs to the Rescue Center himself, thinking it will make Sir Topham Hatt proud of him...

Diesel is determined to show Thomas and the other engines that Diesels are just as good as steam engines... but none of them know anything of his plans. Thomas is shocked when he spots Diesel pushing the logs when he’s shunting in the Goods Yard. Diesel is going faster than a Steamie as he passes through. Thomas calls to Diesel to stop, but Diesel refuses and keeps on going. Thomas becomes concerned – something could happen to the Jobi logs if Diesel were to crash, and so Thomas decides to chase after Diesel and steal the logs.

This leads to a daring chase as Thomas tries to get Diesel to stop. But Diesel isn't interested in stopping for racist Thomas – whole will steal his really special Special, and goes even faster down the line to avoid Thomas catching up to him again. Thomas makes a vain attempt to overtake, but Diesel shoots through the junction just before the signal changes and Thomas has to stop. But with effort and determination, Thomas catches up to Diesel – who is still determined to get to the Search & Rescue Center with the Jobi logs on his own... and completely unaware of the danger that lies ahead of him because of Thomas' chasing him!

The route ahead is still unfinished, and Diesel is still going too fast when he realizes what could happen when he sees the giant gap between the two sides of the bridge over the sea. Despite his best efforts to pull them back, one by one, in very quick succession, the trucks of Jobi Wood fall from the bridge and into the waves and the sea below, leaving Diesel himself teetering on the edge of disaster and desperately trying to claw his way back to safety. Luckily, Thomas, after thinking what he should do, decides to save Diesel, and the two are quickly coupled together. Thomas gives a mighty effort, and hauls Diesel back from the abyss, saving him from certain doom. Diesel is grateful, but very embarrassed at what has happened.

Later, Sir Topham Hatt and the other engines congratulate Thomas for saving Diesel and making a good decision to act when he did. However, the Search & Rescue Center will be delayed until new Jobi Wood can be found to replace the logs that were lost due to Thomas chasing Diesel. But as a special reward for his heroism, Sir Topham Hatt tells Thomas he will be sent to the Search & Rescue Center on the Mainland the following day.

While the engines are waiting, Salty tells them the story of Misty Island. This is a strange and mysterious place that lies just off the coast of Brendam Bay, but is very rarely visible as it is always blanketed in mist. The island is home to some very strange engines, who huff and puff in very strange ways... but no-one has ever seen them. Salty then goes on to tell the engines of an engine who was lost on Misty Island, and used ‘smoke signals’ to alert help – being saved as the mist lifted over the island. Thomas and Percy agree that this would be a useful way of being found if they ever found themselves in trouble.

After Diesel says thank you again, and wishes Thomas "Bon Voyage", Thomas is approached by a Dock Manager who tells him he won’t be able to fit onto the ship. Spencer is already in the cargo-hold and taking up room. Thomas then spots a raft chained to the rear of the ship and asks to be placed there instead. Unsure, the Dock Manager tells Thomas that the chains holding the raft to the ship are rusty, but after Thomas insists, he reluctantly agrees and Cranky places Thomas onto the raft instead. Percy is equally unsure, but Thomas is confident there will be no trouble. Thomas is very proud of his decision.

But out at sea, the chain to the ship snaps and Thomas is set adrift. Whistling for help does no good, the ship just sails on, unaware that it has lost any of its cargo, whilst Thomas and his crew are left far behind and floating aimlessly through the water until morning breaks.

Thomas is woken with a jolt as he hits land and puffs onto a set of rails. Thomas knows it cannot be Sodor, and he has a strange feeling it is not the Mainland either... he’s convinced that he has landed on the strange and mysterious Misty Island. He puffs along to try and find a means of getting off the strange island, but as he does so, he hears strange noises and sees strange things happen, which begin to frighten him and make him all the more determined to leave.

As he shoots off up the line, he finds himself having to stop suddenly as he comes face to face with three of the strangest looking engines he has ever seen. The engines introduce themselves as Bash, Dash and Ferdinand – the Logging Locos of Misty Island. The strange noises and peculiar happenings that Thomas had experienced were simply the three engines trying to play games with him, but he hadn't played back. But Thomas wasn't interested in playing their games, and is fully intent upon returning to the Island of Sodor – without any further delay, leaving the Logging Locos on their own.

At first, Thomas feels very pleased with his decision, and feels confident in himself. But without the help of the Logging Locos, Thomas finds himself wandering aimlessly around Misty Island, with no means of getting home. Growing weary, he decides to stop and rest for the night.

It’s now that Sir Topham Hatt receives word that Thomas did not arrive on the Mainland as planned, and begins plans to mount a rescue operation to find him at once. He sends Harold out to sea with a bird’s eye view, and takes Captain out himself to search for Thomas.

When morning comes, Thomas realizes that he needs the help of the Logging Locos to get home, and chuffs off to find them. He follows the path of the river, and eventually, he finds himself at Bash, Dash and Ferdinand’s Logging Station, where the three engines are hard at work. None of them are too happy to see Thomas after the way he behaved the day before, and although they can see he is remorseful, they’re not keen to help him find his way back home to Sodor.

In a bid to win them over, Thomas hurries after them, and finds that the logs they’re loading are in fact the special Jobi logs that they need to build the Search and Rescue Center. Once he’s explained what it is, he gets the Logging Locos on side and they all begin working together to shunt the Jobi Logs, with Thomas encouraging them to work ‘more quickly’. Sadly for Thomas, the Logging Locos don’t take him seriously...

Meanwhile back on Sodor, Sir Topham Hatt has reached the conclusion that Thomas is not at sea, and so moves his search back to land, enlisting all of his engines to search the island for their friend, and sends Gordon to work with Whiff to help with the rescue effort.

The Logging Locos don’t like having to bustle about quite as much under Thomas’s new regime. They know they’ll run out of oil if they keep working so hard. Thomas is puzzled – he thinks only Diesels run on oil – but Bash and Dash explain that they run on oil and wood for fuel instead of coal (there is less chance of sparks which could set the wood alight this way), and they don’t have much oil left to keep going. But Thomas is adamant that they must keep going – and is convinced he is continuing to make the right decisions.

Next, the Logging Locos take Thomas to fetch logs from the other side of the river – where they have to cross the ‘Shake Shake Bridge’, which is very wobbly, rickety and very unsafe... Thomas is unsure whether or not he should, and orders the Logging Locos not to use it again. They, however, don’t care what Thomas thinks – they have the logs at the other side and he’s stuck on his own. Thomas resolves in the end to cross the bridge after being teased into it by Bash and Dash, and makes it to the other side safely, despite a shaky journey...

The next day, they show Thomas the Log Loader, ‘Ol’ Wheezy’. This is something else that gives Thomas cause for concern, given Ol’ Wheezy’s erratic behaviour, throwing the logs around instead of loading them properly. The Logging Locos think this is funny, but Thomas knows it’s not really useful, and orders them not to keep using Ol’ Wheezy after he throws Thomas’s flatbed of logs into the river and sends them flying all over the place, bashing Thomas’s boiler as they fly everywhere. Luckily for him, he backs away in time before Ol’ Wheezy sends him the same way as his flatbed!

Soon, Thomas finds an alternative – ‘Hee Haw’. Dash explains ‘Hee Haw’ is another Log Loader Machine, which the Logging Locos don’t use as it uses up too much oil. But Thomas is adamant they will use it, and they pour the last of the oil into ‘Hee Haw’ and set him to work loading the logs more efficiently than Ol’ Wheezy did before.

In no time at all, Thomas and the Logging Locos have the Jobi Logs loaded and ready to go back to Sodor – but they must find a way there first. Bash suggests waiting for a boat, but Dash comes up with the most surprising suggestion of all – using the Misty Island / Sodor Tunnel! Thomas is surprised to hear of it, but the Logging Locos explain they don’t use it because it’s dangerous. Back on Sodor, Whiff had explained to the Fat Controller previously that they used to dump rubbish down there before it was blocked off for safety reasons. But Thomas ignores the advice of the Logging Locos and urges them to follow him into the Tunnel in order for him to get the logs home.

But when they get into the tunnel, they find that it is blocked by the rubbish that Whiff has dumped down there long ago. And to make matters worse, the tunnel suffers a cave-in behind them, trapping the four engines completely. Thomas tries to encourage them to follow him in pushing through the rubble and rubbish, but the Logging Locos simply don’t have enough oil to make the effort. All three Logging Locos run out of oil and their lights go out... it’s at this point that Thomas realizes how wrong his decisions have been and how they have affected his three new friends.

It’s only when part of the tunnel roof collapses that it gives Bash and Dash an idea – Thomas has to move forward and blow smoke signals to alert help, just like in Salty’s story. Luckily for Thomas, Cranky, Percy and Salty are at Brendam Docks just as the mist over Misty Island lifts – and Thomas’s smoke signals become visible in the distance. Percy knows what this means right away and hurries off at once to tell Sir Topham Hatt and get help for his friend.

When everything is set, Sir Topham Hatt arranges for a two-tier rescue with Edward, Gordon, James and himself setting sail for Misty Island on the Steam Boat, and Percy and Whiff pushing their way through the tunnel to find Thomas. And despite Sir Topham Hatt's reservations about allowing their expedition, Whiff reassures him that his knowledge of the Misty Island Tunnel will see him and Percy through safely.

Soon, Percy and Whiff find their way through to Thomas and the Logging Locos. Whiff quickly takes charge of the situation, and with a mighty effort, he and Percy bash the wall of rubble down and haul Thomas and the Logging Locos back to the safety of Sodor, where they are greeted by Emily, Toby and Henry when they finally emerge from the Misty Island Tunnel.

But there’s a problem, Sir Topham Hatt, Gordon, James, and Edward are now lost on Misty Island – the mists have come down, the Steam Boat has come back and Harold cannot find them. But Thomas can. He hurries straight to the Docks to board the Steam Boat and bring his friends home again – whilst Percy and the other engines take care of the Logging Locos and send them to the Steamworks to be mended, tended and given new coats of paint.

Thomas arrives on Misty Island and after whistling a greeting to his friends, they hear him, and respond to his call. Thomas rushes off to find them in Echo Valley, and the Fat Controller is so pleased to see him that he throws his hat into the air and loses it in the mist and bushes. Thomas is concerned about Sir Topham Hatt's hat, but Sir Topham Hatt himself isn't – “I can always find another hat,” he tells Thomas proudly, “but I will never find another Thomas.”

With the fresh supply of Jobi Wood, work on the Search and Rescue Center can continue again. All engines from Sodor and Misty Island work hard together, pulling logs and preparing to make the final push for completion. The Logging Locos feel a deep sense of pride at finally being ‘Really Useful’ at last.

With everyone’s help and effort, the Fat Controller is able to open the Sodor Search and Rescue Center  and thanks all of his engines and their new friends from Misty Island for all their help in getting things ready. The Misty Island Tunnel is also restored for use, so that Bash, Dash and Ferdinand can come across to Sodor and deliver their Jobi Logs, and allow Sir Topham Hatt's engines to come across to Misty Island and help them at their Logging Station. The day had been a very special day made possible by very special engines...

Up above, Diesel 10 plots a way to get back at Thomas and Friends (including Sir Topham Hatt) for their racist attitude's to the Diesels, who live in a broken down slum, called the Dieselworks.

03 October 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine and His Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part Three: Steamies vs. Diesels

So from my previous blog posts [PART ONE] [PART TWO] you may have gotten the idea that I do not like Thomas and Friends. But actually I do. I have no problem criticizing something I like. I actually never liked Thomas the Tank Engine growing up or when my now almost 20 year old daughter was growing up either, but as a father, I get in to whatever my children are in to. You can ask my daughter, there was no father who ever knew so much about Sailor Moon and the Sailor Scouts or the Various Little House on the Prairie Series(Yes, there were many, going over multiple generations!). But even with that, she had different avorite characters than I, and the same is true with my son.

My son loves Thomas, Percy, Toby, and Diesel 10 the most. Me, I like Diesel, Hiro, Spencer, and Mavis the best. Maybe that is why I noticed the anti-diesel "racism" of the Steam Team. But besides that, I like the series because each character is very different and has flaws that they have to overcome to get the job done. Plus the catchy songs teach children valuable virtues, like patience. The Reverend Priest Wilbert Awdry should be proud of what came from his bedtime stories to his son, Christopher.

This series is concluded in Part Four. After that, this whole topic is spun out unto its own blog at STEAMIES VS. DIESELS, which you can find at http://steamiesvsdiesels.blogspot.com/.

28 September 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine and his Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part Two: Day of the Diesels

UPDATE: This post has been completely rewritten, updated, and expanded HERE. I suggest you read that, instead of this.

As a follow-up to my last post, let me tell you about the background of "Thomas and Friends" and about the movie that comes 7 years later after "Calling All Engines", a movie called, "Day of the Diesels".

The TV show and eventually multi-media empire of "Thomas and Friends" nee Thomas the Tank Engine is originated from "The Railway Series" a book series that started as bedtime stories for a sick son of the Reverend Priest (It would be Presbyter, but Presbyter was unfortunately shortened in English to Presbt then Prest and finally Anglicized to Priest in the English language) Wilbert Awdry. After his father stopped writing the books, his son, Christopher wrote many sequels until they, in time, sold the writes to what became HIT Entertainments.

Again I will use a review from the fantastic site, Sodor Island Fansite and tweak it to the view of the diesels:
It’s another idyllic, happy summer’s day on the Island of Sodor. Henry is pulling a goods train, Emily is pulling a passenger train on the Branch Line, and Thomas is puffing happily along the tracks. Everyone is happy and enjoying the sunshine. But the happy atmosphere changes very quickly as Thomas sees the blue sky turning black, and the air turning thick and smoky – there’s a fire at Farmer McColl’s farm!
Thomas races up to find Percy already there helping to fight the flames, using water from his tanks. The Firemen, Farm Workers and the Fat Controller, who is organising the efforts to save the farm building, fight the flames valiantly, but it’s not enough. Percy is worried – but from out of the smoke, a bell rings loudly as help hurries toward them. It’s a new engine called Belle, who has arrived just in time to help fight the fire with her special water cannons. 
Belle blasts the building with her big water cannons and begins to turn the tide against the raging flames. Thomas and Percy are amazed at what she can do and look on in amazement. Very soon, the fire is out and everyone is safe again, but the three engines are thick with soot and dirt from the smoke. The Fat Controller congratulates them for their effort, and sends them to the Washdown for a scrub – but Belle can’t move. She’s used all her water fighting the fire. Thomas kindly offers to shunt her to the Steamworks with Percy – who reluctantly agrees, despite being late for his mail trucks. 
Sir Topham Hatt is pleased with Belle – but he knows that she cannot fight fires on her own. Belle knows just who could help – her friend, Flynn the Fire Engine. The Fat Controller agrees and goes to make the arrangements for Flynn to come to Sodor, leaving Thomas with the task of showing Belle around the Island... whilst Percy is left to deliver the mail on his own.
The next day, Thomas begins spending the entire day with Belle. But meanwhile, poor Percy is left to feel sad and alone. Friendly Diesel sees Percy feeling low at the Docks, and takes pity when he sees Percy again at Knapford Station, pointing out how much fun Thomas and Belle are having together – without Percy’s company... 
Diesel meets Percy again at the Steamworks, where Thomas and Belle are laughing and chattering with Victor. Belle asks Diesel if the Diesels have a place just like it. Diesel is sad and makes mention of the dilapidated Dieselworks, before slipping away quietly. Racist Thomas tells Belle that Sodor Steamies don’t go to the Dieselworks because it’s a ghetto: not a very nice place to visit – and it’s full of devious Diesels... once again, Thomas puffs away to shunt trucks with Belle, without speaking to Percy. This makes the little green engine very sad indeed. 
When Percy is delivering mail at Wellsworth Station, Diesel oils up again and Percy feel even worse by realizing that Thomas has no time for him anymore, but Diesel does. Percy asks Diesel if he would like to deliver the mail with him – but Diesel kindly declines the invite, saying he wished he could, buthe has to go to the Dieselworks and see his friends there, once again, leaving Percy feeling lonely and friendless. 
The next day, Sir Topham Hatt gives Percy the special job of delivering Flynn’s hose to the Search and Rescue Centre. While he is waiting at the Docks, Diesel rolls up alongside him again – this time, seeing Percy’s sadness and loneliness, Diesel tells Percy that his friend at the Dieselworks is eager to meet him, and wants him to visit. This cheers Percy up, and puts a happy smile on Diesel’s face as well... he can see his friendship is making Percy happy!
But he scurries away just as Thomas and Belle puff into the Docks. This time, Thomas stops to chat with Percy – but declines Percy's invite to come with him to deliver Flynn’s hose to the Rescue Centre. He and Belle are to take the children to the seaside for a day out at Bluff’s Cove. Percy feels cross at being left out, and heads off to deliver the hose to the Rescue Centre. But on the way, he’s faced with a difficult choice. 
On his way to the Rescue Centre, Percy arrives at a Junction. The right track will take him to the Rescue Centre – the other to the Dieselworks... all the while, Percy is thinking about what Diesel and Thomas have said. There are good reasons to go to the Dieselworks, but there are also Thomas' racist reasons to stay away from it. But Percy’s loneliness overwhelms him and he chooses to go to the Dieselworks, instead of delivering Flynn’s hose straight to the Rescue Centre. 
Percy is unsure when he reaches the Dieselworks, but creeps in cautiously toward the entrance past the dirty old buildings and worn out scrap metal lying scattered around the yard. Percy feels brave for being in such a strange and scary place, but this is shortlived as he comes closer and closer toward the Dieselworks building... and face to face with the smirking Diesel 10! 
Diesel 10 sees Percy’s insecurities and flatters him, telling him it is an honor to have him at the Dieselworks, before leading Percy into the Dieselworks to stop for a while. There, he meets two new Diesels who he has never seen before – Dart and Den, who run the operations at the Dieselworks. Percy and the Diesels chat for a very long time, and Percy nearly forgets about delivering the hose to the Rescue Centre for Flynn. Diesel 10 assures him he needn’t worry – and orders Dart to take it for him instead.
Just then, Mavis is shunted in for repairs by Salty. Mavis is confident that Den will fix her up, but Salty passes a comment on how poor his facilities and tools are – which makes Den feel sad. Percy suggests that they ask Sir Topham Hatt for a new Dieselworks. Diesel 10 uses the opportunity to explain the ‘plight’ of the Diesels to Percy – and tells him that the racist Sir Topham Hatt won’t listen to Diesels, he only listens to steam engines. Percy then resolves to ask Thomas to ask Sir Topham Hatt, knowing that Sir Topham Hatt always listens to Thomas, and hurries off to find him. 
Meanwhile at Brendam Docks, Flynn is being unloaded by Cranky with a crowd of engines waiting to see him arrive. Percy arrives at the Steamworks and pulls up alongside Thomas, eager to tell him all about Diesel 10 and the Dieselworks, before he is interrupted by Sir Topham Hatt, who introduces Flynn. Thomas tells Percy that he has been asked to show Flynn around the Island, as he had done with Belle – and puffs closer to his new friend to chat – leaving Percy alone and sad. Poor Percy puffs slowly out of the Steamworks and back to Tidmouth sheds. 
The following morning, Percy puffs back to the Dieselworks where Diesel 10 is eager for news and developments... which Percy cannot give. But Diesel 10 finds something else to manipulate Percy with when Dart bashes into Happy Hook – the Dieselworks’ defective crane. Diesel 10 casts up the fact that the Steam engines have Kevin at the Steamworks – whilst they have nothing of use. This sends Percy racing off again to find Thomas, in the hopes that he will speak to Sir Topham Hatt – but instead, he finds Kevin at the Steamworks. 
Percy explains that the Diesels don’t have a working crane at the Dieselworks, and encourages Kevin to come with him and work there instead – telling him that he’d be a ‘hero’ to them. Kevin is impressed – but before Percy can say anything else, Thomas puffs in asking about Flynn’s hose – it’s not at the Search and Rescue Centre... Percy tries to tell Thomas that his new friend delivered it, and also tries to explain about the Dieselworks, but once again, Thomas is too busy to listen and puffs over to Victor instead to gossip about the hose not being in the right place. 
Kevin is still keen on Percy’s idea of him being a ‘hero’ and tells him that he wants to go with him to the Dieselworks. But before Percy can say anything more – Victor scolds them both for chatting and sends Percy on his way to find Flynn’s hose. Percy first checks at the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre, just to make sure that Dart has not placed the hose in the wrong shed - but it soon becomes apparent that it is not there at all. 
So Percy puffs all over the Island all day long, but he cannot find any sign of the hose. Finally, he puffs home, tired and exhausted to Tidmouth Sheds, where there is a very big surprise waiting for him. 
There is Flynn standing bold as brass in Percy’s berth at Tidmouth Sheds, right next to Thomas. Flynn kindly explains that Thomas said it would be OK for Flynn to wait there until Percy came back, but Percy still feels very sad and upset – Thomas doesn’t feel like his best friend anymore, and he decides it’s time to spend the night elsewhere. Percy tells Flynn to stay in his berth, and puffs away to help his new friends at the Dieselworks – after a quick stop-off at the Steamworks first... 
Percy puffs quietly into the Steamworks where Kevin is tidying up. Percy tells Kevin that the Dieselworks need him right away. Percy loads Kevin onto a flatbed and they slip past the sleepy Victor and on to the Dieselworks, where Diesel 10 is delighted to see his new crane, and he sets to work with Dart and Den to repair Mavis at once. But Diesel 10 is sad to learn that Percy still hasn’t asked Thomas to speak to the Fat Controller – and encourages him to bring Thomas to the Dieselworks, where they will have his ‘full attention’. 
The following morning, Percy puffs proudly back to work and into Knapford Station where the other engines are waiting. Thomas hurries in – he says has been very worried and been looking everywhere for Percy, but Percy doesn’t care and tells the other engines that he spent the night at the Dieselworks with his friends who have time for him. The other engines are shocked when Percy tells them about Diesel 10 – but there’s another surprise in store – Gordon thunders in with the news that Kevin has disappeared from the Steamworks. Percy calmly explains that Kevin is at the Dieselworks – but then remembers that he didn’t ask Victor’s permission to take him... 
However, Kevin is having a wonderful time at the Dieselworks, playing ‘Swing The Hook’ with Happy Hook. But Diesel 10 is not keen on the game at all and orders Kevin to get back to work at once, much like Victor has to do at the Steamworks.
Finally, Percy has the attention of the other engines at the Steamworks, and tells everyone about the state of the Dieselworks and why he took Kevin. Victor is still upset – he needs Kevin at the Steamworks. Percy decides to use this to his advantage – he tells Victor that Thomas must go to the Dieselworks to bring Kevin back. But Victor refuses to let the matter lie and steams crossly away to speak to Sir Topham Hatt about the matter at once, whilst Percy steams back to the Dieselworks ahead of Thomas. 
Diesel 10 is pleased that Percy has finally done what he wanted, and is even more pleased to learn that Victor has left the Steamworks... Diesel 10 decides it’s time to do something ‘very special’ – they’re going to take over the Steamworks, and Percy is going to lead them! Diesel 10 is convinced he can use the Steamworks as a bargaining tool against Sir Topham Hatt – and continues to tell Percy that he’ll be a ‘hero’ for helping the Diesels’ cause. Percy is concerned for Thomas, but Diesel 10 assures him that no harm will come to either him or Kevin. 
Thomas puffs into the Dieselworks to collect Kevin, but neither Den, Dart or Diesel 10 are prepared to co-operate with the racist Steam engine. Den and Dart tell Thomas to come with them to the back shed, where they can take care of him. Percy is soon leading the charge of Diesels out of the Dieselworks and on to the Steamworks, ready for their takeover, whilst Thomas is led to the back shed by Dart and Den, still calling out for his friend’s help. This time though, it’s Percy’s turn to ignore him. 
The Steamworks is completely deserted when the Diesels arrive. Percy feels proud to have helped his new friends, and is sure that Diesel 10 will praise him for a job well done – as Diesel 10 is thrilled to finally take control of the Steamworks, proclaiming that they will never give it back. The Diesels proceed to run amok in the Steamworks, leaving poor Percy feeling very silly and ashamed. Now Percy decides to go back to the Dieselworks. 
But when he arrives at the main shed of the Dieselworks, he finds it’s caught fire. He then hurries to find Belle and Flynn at the Search and Rescue Centre and urges them to help him. But there’s a problem – they still haven’t found Flynn’s hose. Percy tells them that Dart was supposed to deliver it for him, but Rocky tells him that he never did. Percy realises his mistake for giving it to slow Den, but knows that the hose must still be at the Dieselworks. 
Percy leads Belle and Flynn to the Dieselworks to fight the blaze, which has spread throughout the building. Percy hears Thomas whistling for help and hurries to the back shed, where Den and Dart are standing guard. Percy demands to know where Flynn’s hose is, and Dart tells them it’s behind the trash around the back. Belle and Flynn hurry to retrieve it, whilst Percy orders Dart and Den to let Thomas go and reminds them that the Dieselworks in on fire, and they will all be in danger if they stay where they are... Den and Dart move quickly after that! 
Thomas and Percy buffer up to Kevin’s flatbed and hurry away from the back shed. They arrive to find Flynn and Belle valiantly fighting the flames at the front end, and cheer them on until they win the day and save the Dieselworks from the blaze. And when the work is done, Percy and Thomas prepare to steam back to the Steamworks and take it back. 
Along the way, the engines meet Edward, Henry, James, Gordon, Toby and Emily, and together, the engines puff all the way to the Steamworks to face Diesel 10 and the Diesels. Thomas and Percy speak to Diesel 10, and offer to help him and his friends by talking to Sir Topham Hatt about a new Dieselworks. Their chance comes sooner than expected. Sir Topham Hatt’s car rushes into the Steamworks, and he is furious to see what is happening. All of a sudden, Diesel 10 becomes over very coy when scolded. He is not the monster that Thomas makes him out to be!
Percy, Thomas and Kevin each try to explain Diesel 10’s frustration with the state of the Dieselworks, and why he has chosen to take the course of action that he has done. Finally, Thomas finally asks if the Diesels can have a new Dieselworks to set things right. Sir Topham Hatt tells the engines that he had been planning to build one for the Diesels all along – it was taking time, but he assures Diesel 10 that it would be worth waiting for. 
Together, the steam engines and Diesels work to rebuild the Dieselworks and make it as good as new. Eventually, the work is done, and all the engines stand proudly at the reopening of the Dieselworks. Sir Topham Hatt gives a speech, saying that the new Dieselworks is all the more special because it’s a shining example of what can happen when “Really Useful Engines work together!” 
To be continued in Part Three.

26 September 2012

Thomas the Tank Engine and his Racist Friends, "The Steam Team" Part One: Calling All Engines

UPDATE: This post has been completely rewritten, updated, and expanded upon HERE. I highly suggest that you read that blog post instead of this one. Thank you!

So my son has become obsessed with "Thomas and Friends" (nee Thomas the Tank Engine) and we have started watching the movies on Netflix, getting him Thomas and Friends clothing, train sets, etc. Well, in watching these trains, I am somewhat concerned with the "Steam Team" made up of Thomas the #1 Tank Engine, Edward the #2 Blue Engine, Henry the #3 Green Engine, Gordon the #4 Big Engine, James the #5 Red Engine, Percy the #6 Little Engine, Toby the #7 Tram Engine, and Emily the #8 Stirling Engine.

They do not like the diesel engines, and make fun of diesels, saying they are inferior to steamies (steam engines). To make my point, let me take the review of one of the Thomas and Friends direct to DVD videos, "Calling All Engines" by the wonderful Thomas the Tank Engine website "The Sodor Island Fansite" and tweak it from the P.O.V. of Thomas and Friends to one of Diesel and Friends.
Summertime is always beautiful on the Island of Sodor, and it’s also a very busy time for the Sit Topham Hatt’s engines, who get to show visitors all the splendid sights of Sodor. And they are especially excited when they hear of plans to build a brand new Sodor Airport. Percy looks forward to seeing the airplanes, while Thomas is chuffed that they will soon carry more passengers than ever before and show them all the wonderful sights.

Construction begins almost immediately, and Thomas and Percy are kept very busy shunting trucks of bricks and timber at the building site. The two engines are excited about seeing all the holidaymakers and airplanes that will soon arrive on the Island... but they’re far less enthusiastic about working with ‘Arry and Bert, who are the diesels working at the building site. Why? Because they are racist against diesels.

Later that day, Thomas meets ‘Arry and Bert again when is collecting Timber at the yard. The two Diesels have a “very important job” and want to let Thomas know. This makes Thomas cross, and he decides to be a bully – by shunting Bert’s truck hard just as the timber he is due to carry is being loaded. Thomas laughs rudely at them and scurries off to shunt trucks with Percy at the Docks.

But when they’re working, Thomas is confronted by Diesel, who has heard all about what Thomas did to ‘Arry and Bert. He warns Thomas that he also has an important job to do, and to make sure that the cheeky tank engine won’t make trouble for him the way he has for ‘Arry and Bert. Thomas has other ideas! Instead of giving Diesel the trucks of timber and bricks he needs for the building site, he gives him trucks full of bananas instead.

The engines then go to the Smelter’s Yard to collect some steel girders. But upon their arrival, they see the amazing sight of Diesel 10 crushing scrap metal with his giant claw. The two engines are scared, and decide to come back when Diesel 10 is gone. But on their way back to the sheds they find that the Sodor Suspension Bridge hasn’t been painted, the Airport is only half-finished, and worst of all – Tidmouth Sheds has been knocked down! Diesel tells them that the important job that he, ‘Arry and Bert had been given was building the new ones. But because of Thomas’s tricks – they couldn’t complete the job... and Sir Topham Hat sternly reminds Thomas that “bananas are no good for building sheds!”

The Steam engines are cross with the Diesels – even though it is Thomas’ fault that their home is not finished, and now they would have to find other places to sleep. James chooses to stay at the Coaling Plant, Edward goes to the Quarry to stay with Diesel, Henry and Percy go to the Smelter’s Yard, Gordon finds himself in a ‘tent’, and Thomas has to stay at Knapford Sheds with Emily – who’s less than pleased to share her shed with him.

But in spite of feeling wracked with guilt over the jobs that haven’t been done, owing to his efforts to cause trouble for the Diesels, Thomas is confident that everything can be put right in the morning. However, he doesn’t bank on a wild, destructive storm blowing across the Island in the night. It rips off roof tiles, flattens fences – and destroys the Sodor Suspension Bridge with its sheer ferocity.

When Thomas wakes the next morning, he is shocked to see the damage that the storm has left in its wake. The Airport building site is a complete mess, and it will take a lot of work to get things ready in time for the holidaymakers arriving. Sir Topham Hat is stern with the engines and reminds them that everyone will need to work extra hard, and Tidmouth Sheds will only be finished when all the other jobs are completed first.

Sir Topham Hatt sets all the engines to work. But there is a great deal of disharmony among the Steam Engines and Diesels. There is more disharmony in Emily’s shed at Knapford. Thomas keeps her awake telling her about his day’s work when all she wants to do is go to sleep!

The next day, Sir Topham Hatt gives Thomas the special job of delivering the new bridge section for the Sodor Suspension Bridge’s repairs, and warns Thomas that he may need help delivering it to the site of the construction. Diesel tells Thomas that Diesel engines could help – which makes Thomas all the more determined to do a good job without anyone’s help. He pushes the heavy load all the way from the Docks, up Gordon’s Hill and on to the Suspension Bridge.

But a bigger challenge comes up when Thomas arrives at the bridge. Both he and Diesel want to lower the bridge section into place, and the workmen are keener for Thomas the showoff to do the job. Diesel is jealous – and has to watch while Thomas nervously moves the bridge section down into its new place. And he’s even more jealous when Thomas receives a standing ovation from the workmen for doing such a good job of lowering the section successfully! Thomas declares that Steamies are better than Diesels at everything! Diesel decides the time has come for revenge for all the bad things Thomas has been doing and saying...!

So when Thomas goes to collect some trucks of paint – Diesel lies in wait to strike. He rushes forward and sends the paint pots flying into the air – and spill their contents all over Thomas. Diesel laughs and scurries away – but Thomas is furious. This sparks a chain reaction of steam engines and Diesel engines biffing one another into dirty or awkward places – causing a terrible mess and a lot more delays for the completion of jobs. Sir Topham Hatt is most disappointed with all of them. The bridge hasn’t been painted and they will not be able to open the Airport – meaning no holidaymakers or airplanes will be able to come to Sodor that year. The engines are all disappointed at the situation.

That night, they all have worrying nightmares about what will happen to them. James dreams he’ll end up as a coconut shy, Gordon dreams he’ll end up as part of a children’s playground, Edward dreams he’ll be a scarecrow for Farmer McColl, and Percy dreams that he’ll end up working as a rollercoaster at the Fun Fair! But Thomas’s dream is the one that proves to be the most important to saving everything.

He puffs through the hills of Sodor in a misty, magical place. There, he sees Lady, a very special engine who worked high in the mountains, shunting trucks with Rusty the Diesel engine. Lady has a very special message for Thomas: “We always finish our jobs when we work together...” – something that Thomas and the other steam engines had forgotten all about in the midst of their racist feud with the Diesels.

Thomas knows exactly what to do – and more importantly, who to speak to about it. He hurries off to speak to the friendliest Diesel he knows, Mavis the Quarry Diesel. He soon finds Mavis at the Wash down and explains his plan to her, he wants to rally all the Steam engines and Diesel engines together for a special meeting to discuss the situation, and possibly see if they can get everything back on track again.

But by the time Thomas and Mavis have both spread the word to the other engines, it’s getting late and Thomas is far from home. He stops for a night in a siding, and needs to make a mad dash for the Coaling Plant where the engines are all assembled waiting for him. Tensions begin to mount, until Thomas hurries in to the yard to diffuse the situation before it becomes too heated. He encourages all the engines, both Steam and Diesel, to work together toward a common goal of being ‘Really Useful’ and bringing lots of holidaymakers to Sodor for the Summer. They can’t if everyone is bickering and arguing.

Sir Topham Hatt arrives with Harold to find out why the engines are all at the Coaling Plant. Thomas explains about the meeting and that the engines will all be working together to finish the Airport on time. Mavis helps Percy move trucks, ‘Arry and Bert help Gordon over the hill and Daisy the Diesel Rail-Car helps Toby to deliver workmen to each of the important sites.

With hard work and co-operation, the Airport is finally finished and the first airplane is on its way. But as Thomas tries to complete the last job alone he knocks over a water tower – damaging the runway and blocking the track! The engines are very cross; they feel like they’ve worked hard for nothing. Once again, Thomas has ruined everything!

Luckily, the runway is quickly given new tarmac, but they still need George to help finish the job. But he is too far away and too slow to make it there on his own. The engines need someone who can clear the line – and Harvey is also too slow to make it in time for the airplane landing. Then, Thomas has a bright idea – he knows one engine who could help save the day and put everything right... it’s just a matter of trying to persuade him!

Thomas plans to ask Diesel 10 if he can help clear the track. And although he is scared, Thomas plucks up courage and ventures over to find him. When Thomas finally finds him clearing branches at the foot of the hill, Diesel 10 makes it clear that he is reluctant to help a troublemaking steam engine. But Thomas works hard to persuade him, and explains the situation. Finally he wins Diesel 10 over by promising that he’ll be the most useful engine of all.

The engines are most surprised to see Thomas puff back with Diesel 10. As they watch Thomas and Diesel 10 set to work clearing the track, the other engines feel obliged to help too and begin shunting trucks away. With everyone working together, the tracks are finally cleared and Thomas is able to hurry off and collect George the Steamroller in order to mend the runway. George mends the runway in time, and the airplane is able to land safely. With everything in place – the engines could finally take passengers to and from the Airport.

With everything settled between the Steam and Diesel engines, everything returns to normal. But there is still one more surprise to come – Tidmouth Sheds is finally standing completely rebuilt and looking splendid with help of the diesels. The engines are thrilled to be welcomed home again, but their new home has one special new feature – a seventh space built especially for Emily to become a Tidmouth Shed resident... and she couldn’t be happier to join the others living there!

Unknown at the time, it would be 7 more years before the Diesels would get new living conditions, even though they still will have to live in their repair shed, the Dieselworks. That plot will be resolved 7 years later in “The Day of the Diesels”.
To be continued at http://OrthodoxScouter.blogspot.com/2012/09/thomas-tank-engine-and-his-racist_28.html and later at http://OrthodoxScouter.blogspot.com/2012/10/thomas-tank-engine-and-his-racist.html too.

17 September 2012

Relative of Honorary Veneration in the Holy Bible

Does the Bible permit relative (honorary) veneration?
by Fr. Epiphanios Theodoropoulos
A Publication by the Orthodox Philanthropical Society “Saint John the Merciful” – Athens 1959
Prot.:  I wish today to discuss the matter of veneration, because you Orthodox bow before the Virgin, the Angels, the Saints, Icons, etc.. You even bow before clergymen, inasmuch as you often indulge in deep, full-body bows – even with prostrations on the ground – before them. And yet! God’s commandment is categorical: “The Lord your God you shall fear/worship, and Him shall you serve” (Deut.6:13, Matth.4:10) and:  “You shall not do obeisance to them, nor are you to serve them, for I am the Lord your God” (Exod.20:5).
Orthod.: These commandments dear fellow pertain to the recognition and worship of the one God – the True one – and they prohibit the recognition and worship of other gods – the false and nonexistent ones. They do not preclude veneration of respect, honour, etc., of respected and superior persons. There is not just one, exclusive form of veneration –the absolute kind–  that constitutes a sign of worship and undoubtedly the one that is appropriate only for the one, True God.  There is also another form of veneration, the so-called “relative” (or “honorary”) veneration, which expresses – not worship – but honour, respect, admiration, submission, supplication, gratitude, and the suchlike.
Prot.:  I am familiar with these special excuses by you Orthodox, but I vociferously insist that they are all arbitrary concoctions intended to justify the unjustifiable.  “Veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship.  Honorary veneration as a concept is improper, and as an argument, it is a sophistry… In Christian Providence (Oekonomia), as in the Judaic, veneration is strictly reserved for God only.”  (“Checking delusions”, pp. 125, 136, 143).
Orthod.:  Slow down, dear fellow!  This interpretation of the commandments by us and our distinguishing between two kinds of veneration are not inappropriate, they are not an arbitrary concoction, nor are they a sophistry.  This interpretation and distinguishing is the only correct way; it is the only appropriate and imperative way and the only one that rules out any monstrous contradictions in the Holy Bible. Yes!  Only by acknowledging relative veneration (apart from the absolute kind), can matters be reconciled.  Whereas, if we succumb to your opinion and say that only the absolute form of veneration (ie worship) exists, and that “veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship”, then the Holy Bible itself appears as terrifyingly self-contradicting. Because in it, we observe in places the prohibiting of veneration of beings other than Holy God, and in other places, the veneration of people or Angels being allowed.
Prot.:  There are examples of veneration of people or Angels in the Bible ?
Orthod.:  Tens of them!  Listen up therefore:
- Abraham, “sitting at the door of his tent at midday” and observing three visitors coming towards him, hurried to meet up with them and “did obeisance upon the ground” (Gen.18:2). Certainly the being venerated was Holy God, Who had assumed human form.  Abraham however was unaware of this.  He venerated the stranger as a person. So, how did he venerate him?  By worshipping, or honouring Him? If you say “worshipping”, then you are accusing Abraham of a gross irreverence, because you would be characterizing him as a man-worshipper.
-Here is a second example:  Abraham “did obeisance to the sons of Chet, the people of the land” when he asked them for a burial place for his deceased wife Sarah. In fact he did this twice (Gen. 23:7 and 12).
-And a third example: As Lot was sitting by the gate of Sodom prior to its destruction, he saw two visitors coming towards him, whom he perceived as ordinary people passing through.  Upon seeing them, “he rose to meet them and did obeisance with his face upon the ground” (Gen.19:1).  How did he venerate them, if every form of veneration of people is a sign of worshipping?
-Here is a fourth example:  When Isaac was blessing Jacob, he wished him the following: “And may God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and an abundance of grain and wine. And let nations be subject to you, and rulers shall do obeisance to you…”  (Gen.27:28-29). If there is only one form of veneration –the veneration of worship- was Jacob going to be worshipped?  That would be a clear case of man-worship and as such, unacceptable. It is obvious that this was about a veneration of honour, respect, submission.
-Here is a fifth example:  On his return from Mesopotamia, Jacob marches together with all of his family towards the meeting with his brother Esau. Having sighted his brother from afar, he “advanced ahead of them anddid obeisance upon the ground seven times until he came near his brother.” Then “the maids and their children drew near and bowed down, and Leia and her children drew near and did obeisance, and afterwards Rachel and Ioseph drew near, and they did obeisance (Gen.33:3-7).
Were all these obeisances venerations of worship or of honour?  Undoubtedly of honour, given that the Bible does not permit man-worship.
-Here is a sixth example:  Jacob’s children went over to Egypt where unbeknownst to them, their brother Joseph was ruler of the land, in order to purchase provisions. “And when Ioseph’s brothers came, they did obeisance to him face down on the ground.(Gen.42:6).  Similarly later on, they did obeisance to him twice (Gen.43:25, 27).  Was their obeisance a sign of worshipping him, or was it a veneration of honour and respect?
-Here is a seventh example:  Joseph’s sons – Ephraim and Manasses – did obeisance to their grandfather Jacob, when he gave them his blessing. «And Ioseph brought them from his knees, and they did obeisance to him face down upon the earth», according to the sacred text (Gen.48:12). Was theirs a veneration of worship, or was it one of honour and respect?
Prot.:  I must confess that your arguments would have been powerful, if they didn’t refer to the age prior to Moses, when the Law had not yet been given.
Orthod.:  And from this, you assume that man-worship was permitted?  I ask you:  During the era before Moses, did God allow man-worship?
Prot.:   Certainly not.
Orthod.:   Then why is it that we observe ordinary people being venerated (that is, “worshipped”, as you would have it, since you cannot presume veneration as anything but worship)?  Don’t you think that even before Moses, God had forbidden His faithful to worship men?
Prot.:   I already agreed that He didn’t; however, He had not given any specific, written commandment.
Orthod.:  Was there perhaps given a a specific, written commandment forbidding lies, prior to Moses’ time?  And yet, Abraham was checked by Abimelech, king of Gerara for his lies to him (Gen.20:2, 9).
- Was there perhaps given a specific, written commandment forbidding murder?  And yet, Cain was penalized for having killed his brother (Gen.4:8)
- Was there perhaps given a specific, written commandment forbidding wickedness in general?  And yet, there was the Flood (Gen.7:11 etc), where He destroyed all the lawbreakers, because “the wicked deeds of humans were multiplied on the earth“ (Gen.6:6)
- Was there perhaps given a specific, written commandment forbidding lewdness?  And yet, the Sodomites were burnt down for their lewdness. (Gen.19:1 etc.)
- Was there perhaps given a specific, written commandment forbidding vainglory?  And yet, the builders of the Tower suffered confusion of tongues for their vainglory (Gen.11:19)
-Was there perhaps given a specific, written commandment forbidding adultery?  And yet, Joseph had refused to sin thus, crying out, horrified: “how shall I carry out this evil matter and sin against God?” (Gen.39:9)
Therefore, just as before Moses’ time lying, murder, lewdness, adultery and wickedness in general were forbidden – even though there was no specific, written commandment, so it was likewise forbidden to worship beings other than God – even though there was no specific, written commandment. In fact the latter commandment was forbidden more than any other wickedness, given that it is the greatest wickedness of all.  So, if “veneration” signifies “worship”, the persons that we just mentioned shouldn’t be venerating people, because otherwise they would be punished.  But, since they did venerate and remained unpunished – and in fact were actually blessed by God – it is only natural to distinguish honorary veneration from veneration of worship.  What do you say to that?
Prot.:  I would like to hear other examples, after the delivery of the Law to Moses.  Are there any?
Orthod.:  Lots of them.  But I see you didn’t give any reply to the aforementioned!  So, listen up:
I will firstly read Exod.18:7 : “And Moyses went out for a meeting with his father-in-law (Iothor), and he did obeisance before him and kissed him…” Was this obeisance a case of worship, or veneration?
But, because there is a possibility you will again say to me that the Law had not been yet given to Moses, move along to Numbers 22:31, where we are now in the era following the delivery of the Law:
Prot.:  “Now God uncovered the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of God standing opposed in the road and the dagger drawn in his hand, and he bowed down and did obeisance to his face.”
Orthod.:  Was Balaam conferring worship upon that Angel, or honouring it?
Prot.:   We cannot possibly regard Balaam’s behaviour as being an exemplary one, because Balaam was a false prophet and it was quite possible he would confer worship even upon an Angel.
Orthod.:  We however can – or, rather, should – acknowledge the Angel’s behaviour as exemplary:  How was it that the Angel didn’t protest?  How come the Angel didn’t tell Balaam that worship belongs to God alone?  How did he dare accept “worship” – that is, a thing that belongs to God alone?  Undoubtedly, if this was not a case of honorary worship, but instead, every form of veneration in fact was a declaration of worship, in no way would the Angel have accepted Balaam’s veneration; in no way would the Angel have usurped a divine honour!  His unprotested acceptance of that veneration was therefore proof that honorary veneration exists.  What have you to say against this?
Prot.:   …..
Orthod.:  Listen to another example:
And it happened, when Iesous was at Iericho, that he looked up with his eyes and saw a person standing before him, and his sword was drawn in his hand. And Iesous approached and said tohim, “Are you one of us or on the side of our adversaries?” Then he said to him, “As commander-in-chief of the force of the Lord I have now come.” And Iesous fell face down onto the earth, and he said to him, “Master, what do you order your domestic?” And the commander-in-chief of the Lord said to Iesous, “Loosen the sandal from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy.”(Joshua 5:13).  So, if every kind of veneration is a display of worship and there is no such thing as a veneration of honour, did the most pious and divinely-inspired Joshua of Naue confer worship upon that creation, that is, the Angel?  And the Angel dared to accept that divine honour without protesting?
Prot.:  ……
Orthod.:  I shall move on:  In the Book of Ruth we read that she “fell upon her face and did obeisance on the ground”  to Boaz  (Ruth 2:10). Was that obeisance a display of worship, or of honour and gratitude?
Prot.:  But Ruth was not an Israelite and we should not expect her to know and to observe the Law’s prohibition of veneration.
Orthod.:   But Boaz himself was an Israelite, and in fact a pious one.  How would he have accepted that veneration, if it were forbidden by the Law?  How would he have accepted that veneration, if it constituted worship?   But let me continue:
-In 1 Kings 2:36, when God announced to the Priest Eli the imminent punishments, He concluded: “…he who is left in your house shall come to do obeisance to him (=to the Priest that would be made known by the Lord) for a silver obole, saying, Put me down in one of your priestly places to eat bread”.  Now, was that obeisance a veneration of worship, or a veneration of entreaty and supplication?
-When David met up with the son of king Saul, Jonathan, who had saved him from the designs of his father, notice how he acted: “And when the boy had entered, Dauid rose from the ergaba and fell on his face and did obeisance to him three times, and each kissed each his fellow” (1 Kings 20:41).  Did David offer worship to Jonathan with his triple veneration, or was it a veneration of honour and gratitude?
-And in 1 Kings 24:9 I note another instance of veneration by David: “and Dauid bowed with his face to the ground and did obeisance to him”. Was that a veneration of worship, or one of honour and respect towards the king?
-And in 1 Kings 25:23 I read that “Abigaia saw Dauid, and she hurried and alighted from the donkey and fell before Dauid on her face and did obeisance to him on the ground on his feet”.  Was worship being bestowed on David, or honour?
-In 2 Kings 1:2, I read that when the messenger came to David bearing the message of Saul’s and Jonathan’s death in battle, “he fell to the ground and did obeisance to him.”
-In 2 Kings 9:6: “And Memphibosthe son of Ionathan son of Saoul came to King Dauid and fell on his face and did obeisance to him”.
-In 2 Kings 14:4: “And the Thekoite woman went in to the king, and she fell on her face to the ground and did obeisance to him”.
-In 2 Kings 14:22: “And Ioab fell on his face on the ground and did obeisance and blessed (gave thanks to) the king,”
-In 2 Kings 14:33: “And he went in to the king and did obeisance to him and fell on his face on the ground in front of the king”.
-In 2 Kings 16:4: “And Siba said to the king…and doing obeisance Siba said: May I find favor in your sight, my lord O king”.
-In 2 Kings 18:21: “And Chousi did obeisance to Ioab and went out”.
-In 2 Kings 18:28:  Achimaas “did obeisance to the king on his face on the ground”.
-In 2 Kings 24:20: “and Orna went out and did obeisance to the king on his face on the ground”.
-In 3 Kings 1:16, 31: “And Bersabee bent down and did obeisance to the king
-In 3 Kings 1:23: the prophet Nathan “entered in front of the king and did obeisance to the king, in front of him on the ground.”.
-In 3 Kings 1:53:  Adonias “entered and did obeisance to King Salomon”.
-In 3 Kings 2:13: “And Adonias son of Haggith came in  to Bersabee, Salomon’s mother, and did obeisance to her.
-In 4 Kings 1:13: “And the third officer of fifty went to him and knelt on his knees before Eliou and entreated him and spoke to him and said…” Was this veneration a case of worship, or was it of honour and respect, and above all, of entreaty?
-In 4 Kings 2:15 I read again that the sons of the prophets “came to meet him  (the prophet Elisaie)  and they did obeisance to him on the ground”.
-In 4 Kings 4:37: the Somanite woman, after her son was resurrected by the prophet Elisaie, “came in and fell at his feet and did obeisance on the ground.”
-In 1 Chronicles 29:20: “all the assembly blessed the Lord, God of their fathers, and bowed their knees and did obeisance to the Lord and to the king (David).
So, were all these venerations absolute, or were they relative? In other words, were all of them displays of worship, or did they express honour, respect, subservience, supplication, gratitude etc.?
Prot.:  ….
Orthod.:  If they were displays of worship – as if relative veneration did not exist – then the following ruthless questions rise up before you and demand an explanation:
(a) How could so many pious persons blatantly transgress God’s commandment and confer “worship” upon people, or themselves concede to “worship” being conferred upon them?
(b) How is it, that not one of those persons was punished by the Israelite Community for that terrible act, when in the Old Testament there are numerous examples of stoning of those who transgressed the Law?
(c) How is it, that not one of those persons was punished by God for that horrific disrespect, whereas we can see Him frequently punishing minor transgressions?
More specifically, I ask you:
(a) How could that divinely-inspired, great Joshua of Naue – that faithful servant of the Lord – confer “worship” upon an Angel, thus unhesitatingly showing contempt for the divine Law?
(b) How could Nathan – that holy prophet, that envoy of God, who had such outspokenness and boldness before God – that fearless Nathan – commit such a blasphemy by conferring “worship” upon a person?  How dare he “worship” king David, when he had been given the command by God to go there and check the king for his double sin?
(c) How could David, that very pious and God-loving David, of whom Holy God had said “I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart” (Acts 13:22) dare to accept such displays of “worship”, thus transgressing God’s commandment? How was it that – despite all His love for David, God punished him severely for the adultery and the assassination that he had committed, while leaving him unpunished for the other crime (of accepting “worship”), which was incomparably more serious than the previous two – given that David had supposedly usurped something that was appropriate only for God?  Why did God not only leave him unpunished, but also did not even simply check David for such disrespect?
(d) How could that prophet Elijah – ablaze with zeal and piety – dare to accept the veneration (ie, the display of “worship”) by the officer of the fifty? How could he commit such disrespect?
(e) How could that God-bearing prophet, Elisaie, unprotestingly accept the veneration (ie the display of “worship”) by the Somanite woman and the prophets’ sons?  Why didn’t he dismiss that offer in horror?
What have you to say on all the above?
Prot.:  ……
Orthod.:  You have nothing to say!  My dear fellow, all of those venerations were relative ones.  They were not absolute ones – that is, they were not venerations of worship.  If there had been in them the slightest trace of worship, those pious persons would not have accepted them, let alone confer them.
But let me move on to another verse:
In the Book of Daniel, I read that: “Nabouchodonosor the king, falling face-down on the ground, did obeisance to Daniel and ordered that sacrifices and libations be carried out to him.”  (Daniel 2:46), after Daniel had explained the king’s dream.  Was Nabouchodonosor worshipping Daniel here, or was it a veneration of honour and respect?  And if it was in fact intended as worship – given that the king was not an Israelite – how did the beloved of God and divinely-inspired Daniel accept it as worship, without any objection?
Well, I am waiting for your reply now, as I have finished with all the verses – at least with all the ones I intended to use.
Prot.:  I have an example, where there is a refusal to venerate a person.
Orthod.:  We shall examine your example, but before that, you are obliged to reply to all the aforementioned.
Prot.:  This example itself will give that reply.
Orthod.:  What are you saying dear fellow? That whatever your example may contain, it will be able to overthrow the multitude of examples that I have set forth?  That the one example will win and conquer the many (assuming that there is an antithesis, which I preclude, given that there are no true antitheses in the Bible)?
Prot.:   In the Book of Esther I read: “After these things King Artaxerxes honored Haman son of Hamadathos, a Bougean, and exalted him and set him above all his Friends. And all who were in the court would do obeisance to him, for the king had commanded them to do so. But Mardochaios would not do obeisance to him.” (Esther 3:1-2).  See how the pious Israelite Mardochaios refused to venerate Haman, because he believed that this obeisance meant worship?  If it only meant honouring, why would he have refused?
Orthod.:  Your example only turns itself against you, and not against me.  Because it places in my mouth the following questions:
-If “veneration” indeed signifies worship, then why didn’t the persons mentioned earlier follow Mardochaios’ example?
-Why did they (including Joshua of Naue and the prophet Nathan) confer veneration – and in fact willingly – whereas Mardochaios did not confer it, even though it was asked of him?
-Why did the aforementioned persons venerate without risking any danger if they didn’t, whereas Mardochaios refused to venerate even though he knew he was in danger?
-And among the other aforementioned persons (among whom is the great David and the fiery Elijah and saint Elisaie and the wondrous Daniel): why do they accept the venerations that were conferred upon them?
Is it possible that Joshua and Nathan and David and Elijah and Elisaie and Daniel were less pious than Mardochaios and less faithful to the God of Israel?
Prot.:  …..
Orthod.:  Mardochaios’ example not only refutes the preceding ones, but on the contrary, it corroborates them and convinces us that those cases were in fact cases of relative venerations, because this example shows the negative stance of the pious Israelites towards a veneration that bore the characteristics of a worshipping veneration.  We are convinced that Mardochaios’ refusal to do obeisance had nothing to do with a simple display of honour (but rather had a characteristic of worship), by the following:
(a) it was demanded as something obligatory and it was demanded by an idolater.  It is a well-known fact that in ancient times, idolatrous potentates perceived themselves to be divine beings and deserving of divine honours;
(b) Mardochaios refused to do obeisance to the “prideful Haman”, not because of pride, as he stated in his prayer (“…you know, O Lord, that it was not in insolence nor pride nor for any love of glory that I did this, namely, to refuse to do obeisance to this prideful Haman – Esther 4C:5-7), but “I did this so that I might not set human glory above divine glory, and I will not do obeisance to anyone but you, my Lord….”
So, if Mardochaios (who was not a divinely-inspired prophet, but a simple, pious Israelite) refused to do obeisance – thus “setting human glory above divine glory” – why didn’t the divinely-inspired men (Joshua, David, Nathan, Elijah, Elisaios, Daniel) do the same, but instead, they accepted and they conferred venerations, “thus setting human glory above divine glory”? Undoubtedly, because their venerations were of a different nature, and as such, did not “set human glory above divine glory”!
What have you to say now, contrary to this?
Prot.:  ……
Orthod.:  Let me summarize:  It is an irrefutable fact, that we have before us two realities.  The one consists of tens of people who either confer or accept veneration, and the other is Mardochaios, who refused the conferral of veneration.  Alongside Mardochaios we must also place the three pious Judean Youths who had refused to venerate the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar and for that, were put into a burning furnace but were preserved untouched by the flames (Daniel 3).  So, with these two contradicting realities before us, let us confront the matter of veneration from the beginning, in relation to these two realities.  You are convinced that there is only one kind of veneration: that of worship.
Let’s now see what will happen if we take your view as being correct:
(a) If the actions on the “front” of Mardochaios and of the Three Youths appear as proper and God-pleasing, then the actions on the “front” of all the other persons will appear as irreverent and blasphemous (since they had conferred or accepted “worship”, which belongs to God alone). More especially, the divinely-inspired men Joshua, David, Nathan, Elijah, Elisaios and Daniel will thus appear as wretched scorners of the divine Law;
(b) The stance of the Holy Bible remains inexplicable in that it seems to be receptive of both types of actions.  In fact, the Bible will appear as a book that lacks stable principles and is incoherent; a book with antitheses and contradictions, inasmuch as it does not seem to deprecate or check either of the aforementioned “fronts”, but quite the opposite, it seems to applaud and approve and bless the actions of both “fronts”.
Behold, the results of implementing your viewpoint!
Now let’s examine the implementation of our view – ie, that relative and absolute veneration both exist:
(a) Both “fronts” are presented as right and God-pleasing; the first mentioned one, because it accepts and confers honorary veneration, and the second one, because it refuses a veneration of worship.
(b) The Bible appears as a divine and perfect book, rid of every antithesis and contradiction, and correctly approving the actions of both “fronts”:
The first “front” for conferring and accepting simple honour, respect, subservience etc., and therefore not doing anything contrary to the divine Law, and the second “front” for  refusing to confer worship on someone other than God and therefore obeying the divine Law which has thus commanded.
As you can see, this second solution – the solution of accepting the existence of two kinds of veneration – is the only one that precludes every seeming antithesis; it is the only one that perfectly reconciles matters, and the only one that doesn’t create unsolvable problems.  I am listening to what you might have to say…
Prot.:  First of all, I would like to be informed of this:  If there are two kinds of veneration, how can we discern the one from the other?  How can we tell between absolute or worshipful veneration and the relative kind, so that we won’t mistakenly confer veneration of worship on beings other than God?
Orthod.:  Your query is justified.  However it is easy to discern between the two, because it is done automatically, so to speak.  In other words, every kind of veneration (“veneration” as the bowing of the body, even to the point of prostration) which is conferred upon God is the absolute kind.  If it is conferred upon a person –as a person- or upon an Angel -as an Angel- then the veneration is a relative one.  In other words, when one venerates this or that being as God, then that veneration is automatically the absolute kind; it is worship, precisely because it entails the element of recognizing that being as God. This same kind of veneration (the absolute kind) also applies when a person is thus venerated; when that person is perceived not as an ordinary person (even if a great and important and saintly one, or whatever else he may be, but definitely as a person), but is instead perceived as a divine being.  However, when we venerate an Angel or a person without overlooking their nature, without perceiving them as divine beings (I use the word “divine” here, not in the sense of sacred and holy, but in the sense of a being that by nature has divine characteristics), and without overlooking the fact that they too are creations of the only True God, then veneration in such cases is automatically a relative one.  The reason it is a relative veneration is precisely because it does not contain the element of acknowledging the individual being venerated as God.
And to express myself even clearer, I shall give you an example:   Suppose your brother was condemned to death.  You raise your arms in supplication to God and beseech Him to save your brother. “Lord, save my brother” you cry out constantly.  You also decide to resort to human aid, as much as you can.  With the help of powerful friends, you speedily appear before the king and beg him to show leniency. “O king, save my brother” you cry out tearfully to him also…
Who could possibly say that you committed irreverence because you begged both God and the king for the same thing, with the same manner of expression? Undoubtedly no-one, because when beseeching the king, you were beseeching him as a person; a person who of course has privileges and power, but nevertheless a person!  But, if you had taken the king to be a divine being (the way that idolatrous peoples did in ancient times), then you would have undoubtedly committed a grave irreverence.
And if you would like an example of this in the Bible, here it is:
When the Israelites were in the desert, full of complaints and ingratitude towards God and His servant Moses, “…they said one to the other, “Let us assign a chief and turn back into Egypt.”  And Moyses and Aaron fell face down before all the congregation of Israel’s sons…” (Numbers 14:4-5), thus begging and beseeching them to change their decision and not return to Egypt.
Lster on, when Kore raised a revolt against Moses, Moses “fell face down, and he spoke to Kore and to all his congregation, saying…“(Numbers 16:4-5).
Soon after however, God let Moses and Aaron know that He intended to destroy the people because of Kore’s behaviour and his followers’.  Then Moses and Aaron “ fell upon their face and said, “O God, God of the spirits and of all flesh, if one person sinned, is the anger of the Lord upon all the congregation?” (Numbers 16:22).
What do we notice in these verses?  That when wanting to express his objection to a certain decision that had been made,  as well as in his supplication for this decision to be  altered, Moses used the exact same external method – whether it was addressed to God or to people. And that method was to “fall upon his face” – to fall face down upon the ground.  It was by falling face down that he beseeched God, and by falling face down that he also beseeched the Israelites!  So, I wonder, was Moses being irreverent?  On the contrary!  He beseeched God as God, and he beseeched the Israelites as people.  He had a clear and accurate notion within himself of the worth and the status of each, regardless of the fact that he used similar external forms.  What is important is the inner disposition, and not the external form.
Therefore, that which makes a veneration or a supplication etc. before a person an irreverent and forbidden one, is the element of acknowledging that person as a divine being.  Lacking that element, no irreverence whatsoever is committed, and no Law of the Lord is transgressed!
Prot.:  All of your preceding examples of relative veneration were from the Old Testament.  I would like some examples from the New Testament also, which prove that relative veneration does exist.
Orthod.:  You have no logical right to demand examples from the New Testament also.  Because the commandments which -according to you- forbid all veneration of persons are found in the Old, not the New Testament.  If the commandments were found in the New Testament and I had brought forth examples of veneration of people from within the Old Testament in order to prove with them that those commandments do not forbid every veneration, then you might have said: “The examples from the Old Testament are not valid, because the commandments were given later on; they were given in the New Testament. Consequently, in the Old Testament it is natural to find things that are contrary to the commandments, since they were unknown at the time.  That is why I demand examples from the New Testament.”
But this is not the case, in the matter of veneration. The forbiddance of worshipping people or other beings is not a new one – as is for example the forbiddance of divorce or taking an oath.  The forbiddance of man-worship applies in both the New as well as the Old Testament.  If therefore every display of veneration was an expression of worship, and if “veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship” -as you believe and maintain- then there should not be a single example of person-veneration in the Old Testament.  Or, if there was, it would have to exist in there as a transgression that would require disapproval and austere punishment of the guilty party.  But, because there are many examples of person-veneration in the Old Testament, the problem is solved!  So, to search the New Testament in this case is redundant.  The conclusions that are drawn from the Old Testament (on this matter of course) are by themselves sufficient.  Consequently, I would be in absolutely logical and moral order, if I were to close this subject right here.  But, so that you won’t think I am afraid the New Testament will reverse my opinion and that is the reason I am avoiding it, I shall proceed to research the New Testament also.
Prot.:   I am listening very attentively.
Orthod.:  I will read the following verses:
(a) “And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” (Matthew 8:2)
(b) “While He spoke these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshipped Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live.”   (Matthew 8:2)
(c) “And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son…” (Matthew 17:14)
(d) “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him…“  (Matthew 20:20)
(e) “And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet and begged Him earnestly…“ (Mark 5:22)
(f) “But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth…”  (Mark 5:33)
(g) “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down on his knees to Jesus, saying…”   (Luke 5:8)
(h) “And one of them (the 10 lepers), when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,  and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks” (Luke 17:15-16)
(i)  “Then he (the man born blind) said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshippped Him ”  (John 9:38)
(j)  “Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him…“  (John 11:32)
So, here you have verses from the New Testament also!
Prot.:  How naïve of you! Are you not aware that all these verses refer to the Lord, or are you not aware that the Lord is God and that consequently everyone could – or rather, was obliged to – confer worship on Him? To what end are you invoking these verses?
Orthod.:  And how thoughtless of you!  Are you not aware that none of those people had recognized the Lord as God, but rather, that everyone thought He was an ordinary person?  Certainly an important person and a miraculous and saintly and great one, or as an unrivalled teacher, as a prophet and an envoy of God superior to every person before Him, as…, as…, as… whatever – but definitely as a HUMAN!  None of them could imagine anything more.  No-one knew or even suspected that the externally insignificant son of Mary was the incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity!  Nor were the Israelites at all familiar with the Holy Trinity, given that the teaching of the Old Testament regarding the Triune God consisted of certain hints, which could be comprehended only in the light of the New Testament.  Therefore, all of those who conferred honours upon the Lord had conferred them upon a man – I repeat, a man – who was great and saintly and superior to every other man, but nevertheless a man! Not as God incarnate.  So, how could they be venerating – that is, worshipping (since according to you “Veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship”) a person, when worship belongs exclusively to the True God alone?  Answer me!
Prot.:  …
Orthod.:  And one more argument: If every kind of veneration expressed worship, the Lord would have reprimanded those who venerated Him, for they would have been transgressing the Law of God by conferring worship on a person (since, as mentioned previously, they were unaware that He was God incarnate).
Prot.:  That would not have been necessary (=the reproaching).  Given that the Lord was actually God, He could have accepted worshipful veneration by people, even if they had bestowed it as if to a person and not as if to God.
Orthod.:  Quite the contrary!  He would have done at least what He did when that young man had addressed Him as “good teacher”. Do you remember how the Lord responded to him? “So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One: that is, God.”  (Mark 10:17-18).  In other words, “If you have taken Me to be an ordinary person (and it is impossible to not take Me as such, for you are unaware that I am also God), why do you address Me as “good”?  Only God and God alone is actually good, and only Him should you address in that manner”.
He would have said something similar to those who had venerated Him: “Why do you confer worship on Me since you regard Me as an ordinary human (and are unaware who I actually am)? Worship befits God alone!”
But by not objecting thus, and instead accepting those venerations without objection, He of course knew and could discern that they were mere venerations of honour and respect and supplication, and not offers of worship.  What is your reply?
Prot.:   …
Orthod.:  I shall move on and ask you:  Which is graver – to address a person as “good”, or to confer worship on that person?
Prot.:   Undoubtedly the latter.
Orthod.:  And you stated in the beginning that “veneration” means “worship” and that “Veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship”.
Prot.:  Indeed.
Orthod.:  So listen up now.  The young man who had addressed the Lord as “good teacher” and for this was reprimanded, had previously venerated (“worshipped”, according to you) Him. “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”” (Mark 10:17) So, how come the Lord reprimanded the young man for his use of the adjective “good”, but remained silent with his veneration – that is, his act of “worship”?  Undoubtedly, He remained silent because that veneration was not an expression of worship, but one of honour and respect. The characterization “good” can, after all, be bestowed (always unduly) to a person also (cmp also Matth.5:40 and 12:35, Luke 23:50, Acts 11:24, e.a.), but worship, never. And yet, the Lord objects to the first action – the “lighter” one – and remains silent to the second – the “graver” one!…  I believe dear fellow that this example alone is proof enough of the existence of relative veneration. Do you perhaps have any objections?
Prot.:  I confess that I have nothing to oppose here.
Orthod.:  Now hear another example, which proves that non-worship venerations do exist:
“…the kingdom of heaven was likened to a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’”  (Matthew 18:23-29).
I ask you dear fellow, were these venerations by the servants in the parable venerations of worship?  Isn’t it more obvious than the sun, that they were expressions of fervent and wholehearted entreaties and supplications?
Prot.:  ….
Orthod.:  Now hear another example of relative veneration:  When the earthquake struck in the prison of Philippi where Paul was being held along with Silas, (and as a consequence of which, the doors of the prison opened and the chains of all the prisoners were loosened), the prison guard, believing that the prisoners had escaped and knowing the punishment that awaited him, was ready to kill himself with a sword. But at that precise moment, “Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”   Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  (Acts 16:25-30)
What does this veneration express, dear fellow?  Worship, or honour and respect and entreaty?  And if the prison guard –as a non-faithful– had indeed bestowed worship to those persons by his prostration, why didn’t the Apostles protest vehemently and repulse that veneration (of “worship”) in horror? Doesn’t this verse prove marvelously that there is such a thing as a non-worshipful veneration?  Do you have any objections?
Prot.:   On this point, I do not.  But there are in the New Testament two examples in which the veneration of persons is repulsed:
(a)  As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him.  But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”  (Acts 10:25-26)
(b)  In the Book of Revelations, John says:  “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See  that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God!’ ” (Acts 19:10)
What is your reply here?  How do you confront these verses?
Orthod.:  There are those of us who believe that here too we have simple venerations, which however are not accepted because of humility.  Of course, people quite often reject honours bestowed on them, not because they believe they are not entitled to them, but merely for reasons of humility. In this case however, I do not think we have such a case.  More likely these are examples of venerations of worship, repulsed by Peter and by the Angel because they did not desire, nor dared, to usurp divine honours.  I am led to this opinion by the strong objection by Peter and the Angel to the kind of veneration that was bestowed on them.
In fact, the Angel literally horrified rejects John’s veneration. “ ‘See  that you do not do that!’ ” he cries out; “Worship God!”
And his so austere and categorical, almost agonized tone is too difficult to be attributed to humility.
If their veneration had been repulsed, not as something that belongs to God – that is, out of fear they would be usurping divine honour – but merely out of humility – then both Peter’s and the Angel’s objection would have been undoubtedly milder, and not so strong and intense.
It therefore looks as though Cornelius had taken Peter as a divine being and that Peter – through divine illumination – diagnosed this, which is why he not only lifted him up but also stressed “I myself am also a man.”   What would have been the meaning of these words by the Apostle, if Cornelius had not formed an erroneous impression about Peter’s person?  Peter’s reassurance that “I myself am also a man” indicates that he had discerned that Cornelius had mistaken him for something other than an ordinary man.
This reassurance is similar to Pauls’ and Barnabas’ reassurance before the citizens of Lystra, who had thought the two Apostles were divine beings (“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men’ ”) and were preparing to confer divine honours on them. “Men, why are you doing these things?” the two Apostles cried out. “We also are men with the same nature as you”. (Acts 14:11-15) The similarity in the manner the Apostles reacted in both instances is, I believe, convincing enough that the reasons for their reaction were also similar.  
Then John appears to have also taken the Angel as being the Lord Jesus Himself, with Whom he was together since the beginning of the divine Vision (Rev.1:17). This was not difficult to comprehend, as John was amazed and stunned at what was happening. Thus, it was quite possible for confusion to occur, not just once but twice – as it did indeed occur (Rev.22:8-9).  As for the Angel, it too perceived through divine illumination that it was being worshipped instead of God, and not only objected strongly and repulsed that veneration, but also told him: ”I am your fellow servant”.  (This reaction again resembles that by Paul and Barnabas in Lystra).  What would have been the meaning of these words by the Angel, if John hadn’t mistaken the Angel as being the Lord?  The reassurance “I am your fellow servant” convinces us that the Angel had perceived that John had not taken it to be a mere Angel – which is why it vehemently rejected John’s veneration of worship.
Prot.:   I can see that we are in agreement in these passages, because we too interpret them in the same manner.  And I rejoice about this agreement.
Orthod.:  Don’t rejoice, because you will soon be saddened.  Unfortunately for you, dear fellow, these verses not only do not negate relative veneration; they in fact miraculously advocate in favour of its existence!
Prot.:   That’s strange!  How do they do that?
Orthod.:  I had mentioned this previously:  Such verses show the behaviour of saintly persons in the face of veneration when it is an expression of worship. And that this behaviour is one of strong protest, reaction and aversion.
So, if every form of veneration is an expression of worship and relative veneration did not also exist, then all of the saintly persons of the Bible –without exception– and in every single instance –without exception– should have been protesting and reacting strongly and with horror, against every attempt of veneration.  We however have seen Abraham, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, Manasses, Moses, Joshua of Naue, Booz, David, Nathan, Elijah, Elisaie, Daniel, Paul, Silas either conferring or accepting veneration.  How can things be reconciled, if we don’t recognize the existence of relative veneration also?  Personally, I cannot otherwise solve the problem.
Previously, we saw Balaam and Joshua of Naue venerating Angels, and Angels unprotestingly accepting veneration (Numbers 22, Joshua of Naue 5:13).  Now, we see John venerating the Angel and the Angel not just protesting, but protesting vehemently and with horror, repulsing that veneration.  Why is there a differing behaviour by the Angels, if all these venerations were expressions of worship?
How come the first Angels dared to accept that which belongs to God alone, whereas the second one repulsed it with terror, as not belonging to it?  The differing behaviour of the Angels dear fellow convinces us that the kind of veneration being conferred was not the same in all three cases.
If it was the same, their behaviour would have been the same.  But, given that their behaviour differed, the kind of veneration involved must have been different. There, it was honouring; here, it is worship.   If you have anything to say, I am listening.
Prot.:   ….
Orthod.:  Would you like another verse that proves more clearly than the sun that relative veneration does exist, and thus pulverizes all of your notions that oppose it?  Behold:  The Lord says to the Bishop of the Church of Philadelphia: “Indeed I will make  those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (Rev.3:9)
If you like, you can say that this too was not a relative veneration (a veneration of honour, respect, subservience etc.), but an absolute veneration – a veneration of worship!  If you like, you can say that God permits person-worship – in fact, that He even takes part in it (“Indeed I will make those…” He says). If you like, you can say that God decided to descend from His Throne and lift people onto it, so that they might accept the worship which is befitting only to the One who is seated on the Throne.  Then you might as well leave God and worship people. You won’t be committing irreverence.  God will have thus commanded!
Prot.:    Can’t we say that this example is a case of accession into the Church by the so-named “synagogue of Satan” , and to regard the Bishop as symbolizing Christ?
Orthod.:  I would not object to that.  However, worship belongs to God alone, and to no other being – whether it symbolizes and represents God, or not.  Everything that we offer to God (honour, respect, subservience, gratitude, supplication etc.) we can – to a relative degree of course – offer to people as well.  Everything, except one: worship.
And the reason for this is that the prerequisite but also the essence of worship is that we acknowledge God as the worshipped Being.  “Worship” is nothing other than every honour that is offered to a Being that we recognize as God.  So, if every form of veneration expressed worship, then it would not be possible to venerate the Bishop, whether he is perceived as a symbol and a representative of the Lord, or not.
Prot.:   I did not mean that the Bishop per se would be worshipped.  I meant that the Bishop should be seen as a symbol of Christ, and whatever is said about his person, refers to the Person of the Lord.  Thus, it would be the Lord being worshipped, not the Bishop.
Orthod.:   But the one speaking to the Bishop is the Lord Himself.  Why would He therefore say “I will make them come and worship before YOUR feet” and not “I will make them come and worship before MY feet”?  Whoever heard of Christ speaking of Christ in the second person?  Apart from this, if you take the words being said to the Bishop as referring to the Person of Christ, then you are obliged to apply to Christ the other phrases addressed to the Bishop, and you will thus end up with teachings that are not only nonsense, but also blasphemous.
Because how is it possible for Christ to say to Christ “…and to know that I have loved you”?
How is it possible for Christ to say to Christ, that “you have little strength, yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My name”?
How is it possible for Christ to say to Christ, that “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world”?
How is it possible for Christ to say to Christ, “Behold,I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”?
So, just as all the above pertain to the Bishop, so does “worship before YOUR feet” pertain to the Bishop and consequently, this veneration was in no way a display of worship, but one of honour and respect and subservience.
If you have something to say, I am listening again.
Prot.:   …….
Orthod.:  It has therefore been proven by means of many examples, both from the Old and the New Testament, that relative veneration does exist. And your assertion that “veneration cannot be regarded as unrelated to worship” and «In Christian Providence (Oekonomia), as in the Judaic, veneration is strictly reserved for God only” is proven entirely erroneous and unsupported and very far from the truth.
Source of OT passages : NETS
Source of NT passages : NKJV
Elder Epiphanios of Athens (Theodoropoulos) was a priestmonk in the twentieth century who served the Church in Athens. Elder Epiphanios, aside from serving as a priest and confessor, also wrote twenty-two books and many articles in service to the Church. He was asked many times to become a bishop, but he refused the honour. Having arranged for his funeral and burial, and being spiritually prepared, Elder Epiphanios reposed at 58 years of age on November 10th, 1989.

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