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  • A PRAYER OF MARRIED PERSONS
    O MERCIFUL GOD, WE BESEECH THEE EVER TO REMIND US THAT THE MARRIED STATE IS HOLY, AND THAT WE MUST KEEP IT SO. GRANT US THY GRACE, THAT WE MAY CONTINUE IN FAITHFULNESS AND LOVE; INCREASE IN US THE SPIRIT OF MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING AND TRUST, THAT NO QUARREL OR STRIFE MAY COME BETWEEN US. GRANT US THY BLESSINGS, THAT WE MAY STAND BEFORE OUR FELLOWS AND IN THY SIGHT AS AN IDEAL FAMILY. AND FINALLY, BY THY MERCY, ACCOUNT US WORTHY OF EVERLASTING LIFE: FOR THOU ART OUR SANCTIFICATION, AND TO THEE WE ASCRIBE GLORY: TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT; NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO AGES OF AGES. AMEN.
    ORTHODOXY TODAY – SECULARISM AND THE MIND OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH: SOME PSYCHO-SPIRITUAL: REFLECTIONS
    V. Rev. Fr. George Morelli, Ph.D.
    Secularism and it’s variants individualism, relativism, political, religious and social correctness are one of the greatest threats to the teachings of Christ in the world today. What makes this movement so pernicious is that secularism is being promoted as a “higher form of moral and social action” Modern secularism was originally has its roots in the Age of Enlightenment with pamphleteers such as Thomas Paine at it’s helm and other freethinkers such as Thomas Jefferson. James Madison and Robert Green Ingersoll. The term, secularism, however, traces back to the early 1850’s when George Jacob Holyoake, devised a systematic plan to completely expunge religious teaching from the educational system. This was to be the basis of a new social order, the foundation of the entire society.
    Secularism’s foundation: Godless moral consensus
    As Susan Jacoby (2005), no friend of religion very pointedly states “What the many types of freethinkers share, regardless of their views on the existence or non existence of a divinity, was a rationalist approach to the fundamentals of earthly existence---a conviction that the affairs of human beings should be governed not by faith in the supernatural but by a reliance on reason and evidence adduced from the natural world.” She goes on to say: “Biblical authority is cited by politicians and judges as a rationale for the death penalty. Vital public health programs---the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, family planning aid to Third World countries, sex education for American teenagers (unless it preaches “abstinence only”)---are held hostage by the religious doctrines of a determined conservative minority.” She postulates that in a democratic society, “there must be a moral consensus, extending beyond and in some instances contradicting particular religious beliefs, to maintain the social contract.” In it’s essential this means morality and behavior is based on the agreement a group of people.
    Critical questions concerning consensus
    Now several critical questions come to mind. Which group of people determines the consensus? What happens if different groups are in conflict in terms of what is morally acceptable? Can distinct groups of individuals come to a different consensus on morality and acceptability of behavior? What rule determines which consensus is the right consensus when consensus conflicts occur?
    Now these questions would readily be understandable to cultural anthropologists. The focus of study of cultural anthropology include: beliefs, cognitive organization, economies, family structure ideas, justice and sanctioning institutions, marriage. religious practices, sexual practices, social structure, technologies, values, and various other practices. Inhabiting the earth are cultures and nations with a wide variety of what behaviors are considered normative and morally acceptable in some or all of these domains. This is to say there are societies or groups of people today who inhabit the earth that have come to vastly different consensus as to what constitutes normative behavior.
    Observations from Anthropology: There is no consensus
    A couple of example can illustrate this lack of consensus. In Melanesia, some tribal groups display homosexual relations among men that are universal and obligatory [emphasis mine]. (Herdt, 1984). Another example is a marital lifestyle called polyandry, which involves one woman having multiple husbands. One subtype occurring in Tibet and Nepal is fraternal polyandry. In this behavioral pattern a group of brothers marries one woman. The oldest brother most often is the designated groom during the wedding service. However all the brothers are recognized as her husband by this ceremony and all have sexual rights to her. The brothers also assume a group responsibility for all the children produced from this marriage. (O’Neil 2006). Child marriage is normative in among some groups in Ethiopia and Nigeria, It is reported by Nour (2006) that 50% of girls are married before the age of 15 and some girls are married as young as the age of 7. A very contemporary illustration in a 10 May 2009 CNN report: “Husbands are allowed to slap their wives if they spend lavishly, a Saudi judge said recently during a seminar on domestic violence, Saudi media reported Sunday. Arab News, a Saudi English-language daily newspaper based in Riyadh, reported that Judge Hamad Al-Razine said that "if a person gives SR 1,200 [$320] to his wife and she spends 900 riyals [$240] to purchase an abaya [the black cover that women in Saudi Arabia must wear] from a brand shop and if her husband slaps her on the face as a reaction to her action, she deserves that punishment." In most Western Countries including the United States, such punishment would be considered physical abuse, and the husband subject to criminal action.
    The Mind of Christ and The Mind of His Church
    No individual, who departs from the teaching of Christ, no matter what he or she may call themselves is a true Christian. To illustrate this the reflections of historian Jaroslav Pelican (2001), a former Lutheran turned Orthodox, on St. John Chrysostom's view on the undisciplined state of the Church in the late fourth century, after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Pelican notes, Chrysostom lamented "the incursion of hordes of uncommitted new members in the Church and the breakdown of church discipline it presaged" -- what today we would call nominal or "cafeteria" Christianity. Imperial fiat conscripted citizens into the Church. Little care was given to their beliefs or morals. Those who are Christian in name only or by ethnic identity, hardly model Christ-like values conform to the Mind of the Church and thus are not illustrations of being a true follower of Christ. St. Matthew (7: 15-16) records the words of Jesus: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Think of any historical atrocity committed in the name of Jesus and it can be immediately judge whether or not it is truly Christian. If it conforms to the Mind of the Christ and His Church, then it can be attributed to Christ and His Church, if it does not conform then it is ‘of evil.’ This distinction on true Christians adhering to the teachings of Christ , versus, nominal Christians, is lost by Jacoby.
    An example of misattribution
    Jacoby (2005) is critical of what she terms Christian absolutism and contradictions. She gives historical illustrations. She writes: “It is often noted that religion played a major role in both the nineteenth-century abolitionist and the twentieth-century civil rights movements, but, as Lincoln pointedly observed, the Bible was used just a frequently to justify slavery as to support emancipation.” What is missed in Jacoby’s understanding of Christianity is the Mind of the Church.
    Let me address Jacoby’s own reference to slavery. Fr. Alexander Men writes: “The Mosaic religion was born along with the idea of salvation. The first commandment of the Decalogue reminds us that Yahweh liberated [H]is people from the slavery in which they languished. The general masses always understood salvation entirely concretely, as liberation from enemies and natural disasters. The Prophets inspired this hope, inserting into it eschatological contents.”
    Now there are a number of references to slavery in New Testament scripture. These passages can be easily misunderstood and even applied, by any individual, who out of pride, passion, lust for power or delusion attempt a personal interpretation apart from the Mind of the Church. The famous passage in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (6: 5-9) immediately comes to mind: “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as to Christ; not in the way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same to them, and forbear threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.” Jacobse (2009) pointed out, that the meaning of the word slave from the Greek doulos is better rendered household servant. In actuality this position of household servant has little or nothing to do with the horrific slave trade on the West African shore discovered by Portuguese merchants in the 15th Century and imported to the American Hemisphere over the ensuing centuries.
    If anything the roots for the eradication of slavery as it was known in the Americas (& elsewhere) can be traced to the genuine Mind of Christ and the Church. To Titus (2:11) St. Paul writes: “For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men.” Consider the words of the psalmist (8:5-6): “[W]hat is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor.”
    Because of the God given dignity of mankind, the Church has the built in foundation to be centered on Christ, eradicate wrongdoing, and grow in the understanding and application of the teachings Christ gave to His Church. The guideline of this understanding is conformity to the Mind of Christ and the Church. Bishop Hierotheos Vlachos (1998) states: .   "The word mind denotes the way of thinking and consequently the way of acting as a member of the Orthodox Church." This Mind of the Church was sealed at Pentecost and has passed down to the Church to the present day. Recall St. Paul’s words: "I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you" (1 Corinthians 11:2). St Paul told the Ephesians "you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone…" (2:19,30). St Luke told his readers: "Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, [bishops and priests] to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son (Acts 20:28). Following St. Paul, these traditions, oral first and then written were passed from the apostles to their successors, the bishops and priests. All we have in the Church, its oral tradition, written tradition (Holy Scripture), Holy Mysteries, prayers, teachings of the Church Fathers and saints, holy councils, icons, architecture, music, all proclaim the glory and mind of Christ. Collectively they are the Mind of the Church.
    First Caveat: Christ does not endorse any specific form of government
    This may come as a shock to Americans and any who live under a democratic politic. It should be noted the Church does not endorse or conform to any particular governmental system: democracy, dictatorship or theocracy are all spiritually neutral. That is to say, they are themselves outside of the Mind of Christ and the Church. Christ, Himself told us: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mt 22: 21) The key to spiritually judging any particular governmental system, (including Caesar’s) is if it conforms to the Mind of Christ and the Church. This is seen in St. Paul’s instruction to the Colossians (4: 1) “Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” By implication this means thus all governments and leaders, no matter a president, king, emperor, dictator, priest or bishop must treat all they govern “justly and fairly.”
    Second Caveat: The Mind of Christ is based on Divine Justice not Human Justice
    One primary example of Divine Justice-Human Justice distinction is found in the parable of the workers in the Vineyard Mat 20: 1-16):
    "For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, 'You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, 'Why do you stand here idle all day?' They said to him, 'Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too.' And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.' And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.' But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?' So the last will be first, and the first last."
    Why this parable, violates human justice and is so repugnant to many is easy to see. By human standards it is “unfair.” It violates human sensibility and law. Why should someone who worked only one hour be paid the same as one who labored all day and bore the scorching heat? In the United States, labor unions would run to court and such a human injustice. Regulations and rules should be the same for all.
    But this is not how God operates. Starting with the incarnation itself, we merit nothing. God, “ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever existing and eternally the same,”[i] emptied Himself for our salvation. Recall St. Paul’s words to the Philippians (2:6): “…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped ..” Grace is freely given. No one has a right to anything. By trust in God, and conforming our minds and hearts to His, by adopting the Mind of Christ and the Church we trust based on His Love and Mercy that we will be deified and be one with Him not only on earth, but in eternal life. Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Ageloglou (1998), gives us the following example: “The person who has trust in Divine Justice is neither upset when treated unfairly, nor seeks his justice; on the contrary, he accepts the false accusations as if they were true, and does not try to convince others that he has been slandered; instead he asks to be forgiven. Some or our saints called themselves intemperate, without of course being so, because they hoped and trusted in divine justice.” The Elder’s constant reminder was to always seek God’s justice “…and all these things shall be yours as well.” Mt 6: 33).
    Core teaching that are humanly incomprehensible
    Now there are to be sure some teachings that are humanly incomprehensible and some which violate human justice that are at the core of the Mind of Christ and the Church. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, (e.g. the Father is not to be named Creator); the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (not the Father and the Son); only males can be ordained to the Holy Priesthood, because only males are the proper icon of Christ; only a man and woman can be united in marriage blessed by God, through His Church. While type of government is not within the scope of the Mind of Christ and the Church, the way rulers govern and the content of what is legislated and executed is at the core of this Mind. Rather following Christ’s exhortation to the Romans (6: 16-18): “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” I
    As mentioned above, it is in this guise we can understand the rebuke of Jesus to the Pharisees and Herodi-ans, who were trying to entrap Him : "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." (Mat 22:21). Over the years it is righteous rulers that are acknowledged among the Just, those who while living on this earth as members of Christ’s Body, lead exemplary lives and models of Christ to family and society. Indeed they fulfilled in their lives the counsel of St. Paul and died as “..an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.. righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1Tim 4:12, 6: 11), of Christ.
    Construal influences actions
    The reason why this issue of secularism is so important is psychologists such as George Kelly (1955), has demonstrated the way we construe, that is the interpretation of the meaning of something, greatly influences our thoughts feelings and actions. the act of construing the world, Kelly states these constructions are based on a postulate which is defined as self-evident premise or assertion that guides and give meaning to our lives. Kelly’s fundamental postulate is a ground level postulate, premises and assertions that form the foundation of much of our thinking). Kelly did not concern himself with the origin of personal constructs. (Sechrest, 1963). In other words, his fundamental premise is the way we construe the world guides our lives, but he leaves open how these constructions come about.
    Given the variability found among different cultures, the content of how different cultures view their world and others is itself variable. Truth can not be found in contradiction. Secularism, relativism, freethinking is the mother of contradiction.
    The fundamental question for Christians: Christ or Consensus
    I have tried to indicate in this essay that consensus leads to conflict. It could be the tyranny of the majority over the minority, the minority over the majority or simply attempting to determine which consensus is the ‘true’ consensus.
    True Christians can cut through this by focusing on He who said: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (Jn 14:6). They do this, not by cultural or ethnic identity or considering themselves members of a club or organization, but conforming their mind to the Mind of Christ and the Mind of His Church. From this follows that their hearts and actions will be Christ-like. Such Christians understand the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians (4:13) that they come to: “… knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” The mind of the Christian conformed to Christ and His Church, does not look to the world or consensus to know right from wrong. There is no question, that abortion, adultery, euthanasia, missing Divine Liturgy and prayer, promiscuity, same sex marriage, sex outside marriage, separation of those who call themselves Christ’s from the Apostolic Church of Christ, smoking, unchartiableness, unjust or tricky business practices, woman’s ordination are plain and simply wrong.
    Why I am committed to Christ!
    I was recently asked a question, by a highly educated scientist why I was committed to Christ and His Church. I admit being taken a back because except for my religious scholasticate [seminary] days in which I studied the proofs of God’s existence, I seldom give this question any thought. So I answered my the first thing that came to mind, and it was from the bottom of my heart. Without Christ and all He is he world does not make sense. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the sum total of truth, beauty, goodness and being. My answer immediately brought up a crisis in the life one of my most favorite contemporary spiritual father, Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain I quoted above. Ageloglou (1998), the Elder’s biographer recounts the incident. One day when still a child, Arsenios (future monk Paisios) was walking in the woods carrying a wooden cross and praying. He was accosted by an atheist, who mocked him and said “[God] does not exist. These religious stories are made up by some priests.” Arsenios fell on the ground and felt “confused, desperate and extremely sad, I asked Christ to give me an indication of His existence…” Suddenly the future elder had a thought: “Wasn’t Christ the kindest man ever on earth. No one has ever found anything evil in Him. So whether he is God or not, I don’t care. Based on the fact hat He is the kindest man on earth and I haven’t known anyone better, I will try to become like Him and absolutely obey everything the Gospel says. I will even give my life for Him, if needed, since He is so kind.”
    Application to all who are true Christians
    Anyone who is a true Christian will take all the above to heart. Consensus without Christ means nothing. Christ with or without consensus means everything.   Jesus tells us:  "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. " (Jn 14: 16).  Of the Church St. Paul notes:  "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles ..."  (1 Cor 12: 27-28) St. Luke (10: 16) quotes Jesus:   "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me.." Many, in today’s world look to the consensus of secularism to justify individualistic non-Christ-like living. In this individualistic, "I am the judge of all things," "I do not need the Church" world, all the more reason that the Mind of the Church and the Church has to be proclaimed and be the guide of all of our lives. If Christ, the Messiah on the Cross was a scandal to the Jews, (Morelli, 2009), so too is the Church a scandal, and to be ignored, changed or ignored  by some individuals in our  secular, politically and religiously correct contemporary relativistic society.
    REFERENCES
    Ageloglou, Priestmonk Christodoulos. (1998). Elder Paisios of The Holy Mountain. Mt. Athos , Greece : Holy Mountain .
    Herdt, G.H. (1984) (Ed.) Ritualized homosexuality in Melanesia. Studies in Melanesian anthropology, 2. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
    Jacobse, Fr. Hans. (2009) personal communication.
    Kelly, G.A. (1955). The Psychology of Personal Constructs. Vol. 1: A Theory of Personality. Vol. 2: Clinical Diagnosis and Psychotherapy. NY: Norton.
    Men, A. (1998). Son of Man. Torrence, CA: Oakwood Publications.
    Nour, N. M. (2006), Health consequences of child marriage in Africa, Emerging Infectious Diseases 12 (11): 1644-1649, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no11/06-0510.htm
    Morelli, G. (2009, March 28). The Scandal: Jesus Hangs on the Cross to Forgive Us of Sin. http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles-2009/Morelli-The-Scandal-Jesus-Hangs-On-The-Cross-To-Forgive-Us-Of-Sin.php.
    O'Neil, Dennis. "Kinship Overview." The Nature of Kinship. 27 June 2006. 19 Feb. 2009 <http://anthro.palomar.edu/kinship/kinship_1.htm>.
    Pelican, J. (2001). Divine rhetoric: The Sermon on the Mount as message and as model in Augustine, Chrysostom, and Luther. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press.
    Sechrest, L. (1963). The psychology of personal constructs: George Kelly. In J. Wepman & R. Heine (Eds.), Concepts of personality. Chicago: Aldine Press.
    Vlachos, Bishop Hierotheos, (1998). The Mind of the Orthodox Church. Lavadia, Greece: Birth of the Theotokos Monastery.
    Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
    6. who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (Philp 2 5-6)
    I  very much want to present a counter-position.    Possibly because I come across, some individuals who want to secularize the Church I think it important to keep in Capitals the: Mind of the Church.   Bp. Hierotheos in a footnote to in his Introduction to the book with the same title he  defines this as: "The word mind denotes the way of thinking and consequently the way of acting as a member of the Orthodox Church." He has a chapter in his book on secularism is a "rejection of the ecclesiastical ethos and the perversion of our life by the so-called worldly mind."  Possibly because I have come across pernicious, egregious,  hidden and not so hidden agendas, as well as outright indifference by those who label themselves "Orthodox": e.g. ordination of woman especially in some seminaries, and among so called theologians and even SCOBA agencies ( e.g. OCAMPR) .. that I am so very  sensitive to this issue ....Now, in my writing,  I will make it clear the Mind of the Church includes: Tradition, Scripture as understood by the "Mind of the Church," the teachings of the holy and spiritual fathers of the Church, liturgy, prayer, temple architecture, icons, the Church Councils, the teachings of bishops and priests and laity in union with the Mind of the Church etc. Of course Fr.Hans, the Mind of the Church has to be in conformity to the Mind of Christ.  The Church is also the Body of Christ and as such it's 'Mind' can be described, especially as played out over history, exits today as long as in union with Christ and His Church as exists from Pentecost to the present time.   So in fact I do "want to emphasize" the Mind of the Church not as a " "state of being" rather than as continual and eternal movement and growth"" as Fr Deacon John notes, and I agree with .. but to force all, so to speak, to consider if some secularist, heretical propositions conform to the "Mind of the Church ..  ..It think at this stage in History it is critical to do so.... In fact .. I think it is an article entitled: The Importance of the Mind of the Church in Orthodox Psych-spirituality" would be quite timely in this regard and will consider this to be one of my next projects   Fr Deacon John, (Fr Hans already knows this) .. It was very difficult this past Fall (2008) to publicly debate  (covered by TV and other media which I did) those who call themselves Christian ministers who say the teachings of Christ and His church have to "evolve" to "keep up with the times" --- my only counter argument .. (which seemed to be successful, as reported by reporters was: the full revelation of Christ was given by Him to His Church and the measure of all that is seemingly new has to be considered as to it is in continuity with the "Mind of the Church". ..... Christ of course, enlivens, is the Soul, subsists mystically in the Church and gives it it's "Mind." In terms of this I think of: Jesus tells us:  "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. " (Jn 14: 16).  St. Paul notes:  "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.   And God has appointed in the church first apostles ..."  (1 Cor 12: 27-28) St. Luke (10: 16) quotes Jesus:   "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me.." In this individualistic, "I am the judge of all things," "I do not need the Church" world, all the more reason that the Mind of the Church has to be emphasized ------if the Cross was a scandal to the Jews, as per my recent OT article (http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles-2009/Morelli-The-Scandal-Jesus-Hangs-On-The-Cross-To-Forgive-Us-Of-Sin.php), so too is the Church a scandal, and to be ignored, changed or ignored  for some individuals in our  "politically and religiously correct contemporary relativistic society ... more than ever a reason to emphasize the "Church" and  its: "Mind."  These are all psycho-spiritual pastoral reflections .... but that is my ministry .... in the Risen Christ's service .... Fr. George
    premises have to be based on some value system orientation. It is apparent from the numerous cross cultural studies, a few example mentioned above the value systems have varied greatly. Once a culture, has a value system and has a set of premises that follow, then the fundamental construct, discussed by Kelly seems would apply. Thus once a premise is identified, then its corollaries, that is to say the practical consequences that follow, can be determined.
    it is hardly arguable that the postulate as reasoned by Kelly is a “self evident premise.”
    Kelly listed several corollaries to his fundamental postulate including the modulation corollary that is relevant to the capability of spiritual change (having the seed of God's word grow in us). More on this below. Constructs become more stable as more experience is accumulated and lead to more correct predictions
    A Core, Fundamental Postulate for Christians
    Just as Kelly has his fundamental construct postulate, so too do Christians: God is all that is Good, Beautiful, and True. In the word's of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, God is "ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible ever existing and eternally the same." This is also true of Our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who as three persons form one God. God is He who has brought us from "non-existence into being" and "didst not cease to do all things until ... (He) brought us back to heaven ... "
    Kelly stated in his fundamental construct postulate: "A person's processes are psychologically channelized by the ways in which he anticipates events."
    freethinkers, those who arrive at conclusions, particularly in questions of religion, by employing the rules of reason while rejecting supernatural authority or ecclesiastical tradition. The freethinkers believe that independence of thought from such authority leads all men to essentially identical conclusions concerning morality and religion. The name came into general use in the 18th cent. after the publication (1713) of Anthony Collins's Discourse of Freethinking Occasioned by the Rise and Growth of a Sect Called Freethinkers. The movement took different forms in different countries. In England it was intimately connected with deism but did not break completely with traditional Christianity. It took a more radical form in France. Voltaire renounced all connection with Christianity, and the Encyclopedists broke with religion altogether. Freethinking also has an important social side and influenced the philosophies of the Freemasons and, in France, the Culte de l'Être Suprême. In the United States the organizations established to further freethinking include the American Rationalist Association, the American Secular Union, and the Freethinkers of America. The International Order for Ethics and Culture, organized at Bern in 1908, is designed to investigate the ethical factors in society without theological or metaphysical bias
    Jacoby: Freethinkers: A history of American secularism“Biblical authority is cited by politicians and judges as a rationale for the death penalty. Vital public health programs---the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, family planning aid to Third World countries, sex education for American teenagers (unless it preaches “abstinence only”)---are held hostage by the religious doctrines of a determined conservative minority.”
    For a democratic society, however, there must be a moral consensus, extending beyond and in some instances contradicting particular religious beliefs, to maintain the social contract. Both the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement a century later exemplify the kind of consensus that
  • We warn the citizens of our countries about the danger represented by a secularised society with no moral reference points and without a plan, which is worthy of humankind. There is no coexistence without a relation with the objecting reality of humankind and their need to be open to the reality in which they live, which is not only limited to the pursuance of material wellbeing, rather includes the quest for the meaning of life through an endless spiritual search. The image of man, which emerges in public debates and through the media, is often alien to this quest for the truth, since only the satisfaction of one’s wishes is taken into account. The legal system on which the States - and therefore relations amongst citizens - are based cannot depend on the changeable opinions of people, nor on the action of pressure groups. Such a system should be based on intangible human values. Moreover, we reaffirm that these are intrinsic values in humankind. They precede the law and the state. Religious freedom is at the centre of the fundamental rights of the human being, since it gives men the opportunity to freely search for the truth and act in line with it; it sheds light on the design of the Creator, Who wanted us to freely turn to Him.
  • It claims to be inclusive of all. What is missed is that Secularism itself has. What are the critical ingredients of any religion? “These are: Religion has a public aspect and the Secularist Religion has spared no effort in its desire to establish itself as the public national and world religion. Furthermore, it makes no apology for imposing its values on all. It is “politically correct.”
  • Secular values are disguised by politically correct jargon. If Godly people were more aware of the secular value agenda, they might see the need to embrace and celebrate traditional religious beliefs in our society instead of eradicating them. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the laws of secularism were explicitly laid out in 1998 by Robert Greene in a book entitled The 48 Laws of Power. Among the most egregious secularist principles are: learn to use your enemies; conceal your intentions; court attention at all costs; get others to work, but take the credit; use selective honesty; appeal to self-interest; crush your enemy; keep others in suspended terror; discover each man's thumbscrew; create compelling spectacles (the aura of power).
  • A careful study of the conflict reduction studies will reveal that general “integrative” activities between conflicting groups did not ameliorate hostility or promote unity. It was only when a common threat to the welfare of both groups was introduced that attenuation of hostility commenced. For our Churches, this means all, from the royal priesthood of the baptized to the threefold priesthood, bishops as arch-pastors, our priests and pastors and our deacons, at the head of the laity, have to perceive the great seriousness and threat of the evils of politically correct, post-modern, relativistic, secular society.
  • A passionate perception of threat
    This means awakening a passionate sense of the threat so that it produces an internal psycho-spiritual revolution that sparks a fervid call to action to combat this threat on all fronts: in government, in politics, in the community, in the parish churches, in the home (the domestic church), and among ourselves as individuals totally committed to Christ. Indifference (Morelli, 2008a) is, and will be, the greatest challenge to this needed psycho-spiritual revolution. The sense of threat must be so strong that the Alliance of the Apostolic Churches promotes a global clash of cultures: The Culture of Christ versus the Culture of Godless Society. All of us have to have the fervor of St. John the Baptist: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Mt. 3:3). We must become radical, revolutionary Christians.
  • Permit me to give some examples. The technological advances in modern society, have been nothing short of amazing. The fact that our God-given intelligence has given us television, computers, smart phones, etc., is the fruit of mankind’s fulfilling God’s command: “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion… over all the earth…” (Gen 1: 26). So, television is good in and of itself, but a newscaster taking off an item of clothing after each report until stripped bare is deplorable, as is programming depicting promiscuity and same-sex marriage. Computers could be a blessing, but posting pictures of teens physically beating themselves or others to death, or posting explicit sex encounters is reprehensible. A Smartphone can be such a useful communication tool and time saver, but stalking others for financial or sexual gain is condemnable. The collaboration and cooperation of all Apostolic Churches — the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Oriental Orthodox Churches — is essential in this culture combat. We must become moral allies against the axis of brokenness (Morelli, 2006b).
  • As God’s grace builds on nature, so does the work of the separator, the divider, the evil one. St. Maximus the Confessor taught: "the grace of the most Holy Spirit does not confer wisdom on the Saints without their natural intellect as capacity to receive it." Goodness and wisdom is granted to man by his "volitive" faculty, so that what He (Christ) is in His essence the creature may become by participation" (Philokalia II). The evil one, on the other hand, is the source of disorder. The devil does not function as God's opposite, but only as a liar and destroyer - as one who distorts God's truth and violently deconstructs God's created order. St. John wrote that, "the devil has sinned from the beginning" (1 John 3:8). He shed more light on the nature of the devil and his evil in a conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44).
  • The deception, deceit and camouflage of the evil one was well known by C.S. Lewis (Morelli, 2005d). The Evil One is cunning and often comes in disguise. C.S. Lewis (1961) in his famous work , The Screwtape Letters, has the senior supervising devil telling the devil-novice: "Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.” In another place Lewis has the senior devil say: “. . . if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those , the more lukewarm [indifference, Morelli, 2008a] he is, the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred [between parties].” And with brilliant insight Lewis pens the words of the senior devil on how the evil one want Christianity to be used: “Certainly we do not want Christianity to flow over into their political life… we do want men [to] treat Christianity as a means… to their own advancement… You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game.”
  • Examples of the zealousness of the righteous Prophets and Holy Apostles
    Moses in the book of Exodus (32: 19-21) writes of his own zeal. When coming down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Tablets of the Law from God Himself and seeing the Hebrew people worshiping the golden idol “Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?"
    Consider David’s courage, diligence and zeal in standing up to the Philistines: "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…”(1Sam 17: 45-46).
    The Prophet Elijah proclaims his own zealousness for the Lord: “. . . the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thy altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." And He said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord" (1Kg 19: 9-11).
    Consider St. Luke’s account of the zeal of a follower of Christ, who proclaimed Christ’s teaching even though he had not yet been given the baptism of Christ Himself: “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent [zealous] in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue… ” (Acts 18: 24-26)
    Examine how St. Paul’s instructions to the Romans (12: 9-12) can be a model for our own zealous commitment to Church reunion: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Indeed we must have “a zeal for God.” (Rm 10: 2)
  • Similar to the seminal psychology studies on conflict resolution discussed above, we must find joint combat strategies to overcome the Godless secularism that is attacking Christ and His Church, and which is a serious threat to the salvation of ourselves and our loved ones as well as of all mankind. The alliance Archbishop Alfeyev suggests must be more than good intention and pious sentiment. Members of the Apostolic Churches have to find creative ways to humbly, and with great zeal, do the work of moral alliance. Let us recall the words of St. James: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Jas 2:14). What might be some “works” of our Christo-centric moral and value alliance? Of course, I encourage all to become a zealous and active member of the Society of St. John Chrysostom.xxix This and all we do would have to reflect the spirit of St. John the Baptist in today’s age:
    In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mt 2: 1-6).
    Our wilderness may be no further than our own parish churches, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our news media, our Politicians. Some examples.xxx of what we can do: start joint Catholic/Orthodox alliance activities such as: action committees, book clubs, conferences, e- mail action groups, lecture groups, pilgrimages, right-to(all)-life action groups, social events, study groups.
  • The Domestic Church
    Ideally, a true Orthodox Christian domestic church in our day should look like (but is not limited to) something like this: Jesus Christ is at the center or hub. Husbands, and wives, as such, and as fathers and mothers, should be the leaders of the "church at home" in Christ's name. They should bless one another and their children, bless the food which is partaken, give thanksgiving for all that God has provided (house, furnishings, etc.), thank God for health and talents, and lead by the sanctity of their conduct as well as their words (Morelli, 2005c).
    No catechesis can take place without the full deployment of the Domestic Church. The Orthodox family home has to reflect in its entirety the teachings of Christ and the application of these teachings as understood by His Church in the world today. Formal parish catechetical lessons usually at best may last 45 minutes to 1 hour a week. The number of hours in an entire week is 168 hours. Considering of the importance of models in shaping behavior (Morelli, 2007, 2008, 2009), how much impact can a 1 hour Church School have when it is not reflected in the family lifestyle during the other 167 hours comprising the week?
    An expanded outline of how the Domestic Church can fulfill its obligation to preach, teach and practice Christ can be found in Morelli, 2009.
    Children are probably among the greatest hypocrisy detectors in the world. When they witness and experience a discrepancy between what they are taught by Christ and His Church and what is practiced in the Domestic Church the consequences are spiritually and morally devastating. The disconnect is immediately seen. The children's faith in the credibility of the Christian understanding of husband-wife, father-mother, family life and/or the moral authority of Christ and the message of His Church is shattered. Contemplate Our Lord's dire warning: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea." (Mk 9:42).
  • 1) We are in agreement about the husband and wife roles each of us expects of the other in our marriage relationship. A D U 2) There are qualities about my future spouse that I do not respect. A D U 3) We have discussed the ways our families solved problems and how this may affect our problem solving. A D U 4) We disagree with each other over some teachings of the church. A D U 5) My future spouse and I have agreed we will not have children. A D U 6) I am concerned that in-laws may interfere in our marriage relationship. A D U 7) My future spouse and I can talk about our sexual fears, hopes and preferences. A D U 8) We are in agreement about how we will make financial decisions between us. A D U 9) I sometimes feel that this may not be the right person for me to marry. A D U 10) My future spouse and I agree that our marriage commitment means we intend to pledge love under all circumstances.
  • Below are some discussion points in question format with sample answers that I think may be helpful
  • Parents can help children role play different possible encounters. Here are a few possible response scripts for various situations (Tom and Jane are generic names for the script):
    Tom may be gay, but he is also a child of God.
    Jane is free to act the way she wants, she can choose to live the way God asks us to act according to His Will or 'do her own thing.' I will pray for her.
    Jesus has told us that only a man and woman can marry and be blessed by the church. Tom and his male friend cannot have a blessed marriage in Christ.
    If a male-female couple decided to just live together or get a "justice of the peace marriage," it would not be blessed either.
    All of us, male and female are asked by God to love and obey Him, but it is our choice.
    I cannot judge Tom, only God judges, but I can pray that we all do God's will.
    Jesus told us Jane cannot be married to her girlfriend, but God also gave us free will. I will pray for them. God told me to only look at myself—I sure know the sins I have done.
    Listen, I have chosen to live my life the way Jesus has told us. I may mess up, but I keep trying.
    Just because Tom and his friend, and Jane and her friend were "married in court" doesn't mean it is blessed by God. God only blesses a man and a women who marry in church.
  • Transcript

    • 1.  SEC·U·LAR·ISM (SµK“Y…-L…-R¹Z”…M) N. 1. RELIGIOUS SKEPTICISM OR INDIFFERENCE. 2. THE VIEW THAT RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS SHOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM CIVIL AFFAIRS OR PUBLIC EDUCATION. --SEC“U·LAR·IST N. --SEC”U·LAR·IS“TIC ADJ.  FROM “THE AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY”
    • 2.  AN INCREASINGLY SECULARIZED WORLD VIEW HAS COME TO DOMINATE EVERY PROFESSION, ACADEMIA AND, ESPECIALLY, MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT.
    • 3.  Secularism can be defined as the marginalization of God and the Church, and in place of God and His Church, a focus on "earthly things" (Phil. 3,19). That is to say, the values of contemporary western world including: radical individualism; moral relativism; and religious and political correctness, which guide individual and social behavior and inform political/public policy.
    • 4.  DANGER: “…without points of moral reference and without a plan worthy of the human person"  “…only the satisfaction of one’s wishes is taken into account”  [Second Catholic-Orthodox Forum - Rhodes, Greece – 18th-22th October 2010- by invitation of His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew ]
    • 5.  Secularism rejects God and His Church as the touchstone of truth and meaning. Moreover, when God is rejected, the locus of truth — the place from which truth emanates and where it is found — must necessarily rest in the created order. The locus shifts to man himself, and as pride and an inflated sense of Godless self- sufficiency grows, ideas which find no court of accountability apart from the like-minded, are implemented in this quest for a new Jerusalem.
    • 6.  Secularism claims to be indifferent to religion.  The essential marks of religion: narratives, symbols, and traditions concerning the meaning of the universe and its existence, of human life, and of societal values and how they should be carried out.  Religion has a public aspect and the secularist religion has spared no effort in its desire to establish itself as the public national and world religion
    • 7.  If Godly people were more aware of the secular value agenda, they might see the need to embrace and celebrate traditional religious beliefs in our society instead of eradicating them.
    • 8.  Among the most egregious secularist principles are: learn to use your enemies; conceal your intentions; court attention at all costs; get others to work, but take the credit; use selective honesty; appeal to self-interest; crush your enemy; keep others in suspended terror; discover each man's thumbscrew; create compelling spectacles (the aura of power). [Greene R. (1998). The 48 Laws of Power. NY: Penguin]
    • 9.  Abortion, adultery, alcoholism, anger, blasphemy, child abuse (physical, psychological, sexual or neglect), contempt, deceit, drug addiction, evil speaking (talking about someone even if true), fornication, gossip, harshness, hate, hypocrisy, idolatry, insider trading, kidnapping, kickbacks, lust, lying, negligence, not caring for the environment, pre-emptive unjust warfare, same sex marriage, smoking, spousal abuse, torturing and/or belittling prisoners, using others for money, power or sex, vengeance (national and personal).
    • 10.  Many Protestant communities of the West cannot be relied on to battle this brokenness. In fact, they are part of the problem. As communities they have abandoned the ancient Sacred Traditions of the Church founded by Christ on His Apostles. They have modified and redefined the fundamental teaching of Christ to conform to the secular culture. Some have even claimed their personal interpretation of Holy Scripture is the work of the Holy Spirit and use their personal views to justify personal and societal sin. [Alfeyev, Archbishop Hilarion. (2009). Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The descent into Hades from an Orthodox perspective. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.]
    • 11.  Some who label themselves Christian communities are even teaching that several of the societal sins listed above, such as abortion and same sex marriage, are Godly acts. Some have acquiesced to political correctness and teach that females can be ordained to the holy priesthood and episcopacy. The effect of this sell-out is not only to not preach the Gospel as Christ has taught us, but also to produce a greater alienation from the Orthodox Church, which the non-Christian world can perceive as outright scandal and hypocrisy. “It has also undermined the common Christian witness to the secularized world. Some Orthodox have been infected with this disease
    • 12.  Equally reprehensible is the message of those who preach hatred, retribution, vengeance and death in the name of Christ. This is a mockery of all Christ stood for by His emptying of Himself (kenosis) of the Godhead and taking on our human nature.  St. Luke warned of wolves coming among those who call themselves followers of Christ: "I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." (Acts 20: 29). St. John tells us "This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son." (2 Jn 2:22). St. John also told us: "He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him." (1 John 4:8,16).
    • 13.  Our holy Church Father St. Isaac the Syrian tells us what abiding in love means. He tells us it entails acquiring a merciful heart whereby we become like God. St. Isaac’s words are exact, concrete and practical: And what is a merciful heart? it is the heart burning for the sake of all creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons and for every created thing . . . the eyes of a merciful man pour forth tears . . . . he cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in creation...he offers up tearful prayer continually. . .for the enemies of truth, and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. Alfeyev, Bishop Hilarion (2000). The Spiritual World of St. Isaac the Syrian. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications.
    • 14.  For those who call themselves 'Orthodox Christians,' but are really not totally committed to Christ, that is to say not truly Orthodox Christians, the condemnation is even worse for they have been given the fullness of Christ's gifts. Recall Our Lord's words: "Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required." (Lk 12:48)
    • 15.  After receiving the Eucharist at the Divine Liturgy we sing, "We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit; we have found the true faith, worshipping the undivided Trinity: for He hath saved us." The Orthodox Church of Christ has been given the totality of Divine Gifts. Woe to any who waste the divine gifts received at Holy Baptism and available throughout one's lifetime by full and deep participation of the life in the Church.
    • 16.  The increasing homogenization of Christ's teaching with Godless world values and practice has accelerated in part due to technological, economic and entertainment globalization. Thus the need for true and complete pastoral focus on Orthodox catechesis is so critically necessary: A re- commitment to Christ in emulation of the first Christians in the Acts of the Apostles.
    • 17.  Psychological research: When a threat is perceived collaborative action takes place  this means all, from the royal priesthood of the baptized to the threefold priesthood, bishops as arch-pastors, the priests as pastors of the local community, the deacons, at the head of the laity, have to perceive the great seriousness and threat of the evils of politically correct, post-modern, relativistic, secular society.
    • 18.  awakening a passionate sense of the threat so that it produces an internal psycho-spiritual revolution that sparks a fervid call to action to combat this threat on all fronts: in government, in politics, in the community, in the parish churches, in the home (the domestic church), and among ourselves as individuals totally committed to Christ. Indifference is, and will be, the greatest challenge to this needed psycho-spiritual revolution. The Culture of Christ versus the Culture of Godless Society, must be cultivated All have the fervor of St. John the Baptist: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Mt. 3:3). We must become radical, revolutionary Christians.
    • 19.  The technological advances in modern society, have been nothing short of amazing. The fact that our God-given intelligence has given us television, computers, smart phones, etc., is the fruit of mankind’s fulfilling God’s command: “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion… over all the earth…” (Gen 1: 26). television is good in and of itself, but a newscaster taking off an item of clothing after each report until stripped bare is deplorable, as is programming depicting promiscuity and same-sex marriage. Computers could be a blessing, but posting pictures of teens physically beating themselves or others to death, or posting explicit sex encounters is reprehensible. A Smartphone can be such a useful communication tool and time saver, but stalking others for financial or sexual gain is condemnable.. We must become passionate warriors against the axis of brokenness
    • 20.  As God’s grace builds on nature, so does the work of the separator, the divider, the evil one.  St. Maximus the Confessor taught: "the grace of the most Holy Spirit does not confer wisdom on the Saints without their natural intellect as capacity to receive it." Goodness and wisdom is granted to man by his "volitive" faculty, so that what He (Christ) is in His essence the creature may become by participation" (Philokalia II).  The evil one, on the other hand, is the source of disorder. And functions as a liar and destroyer - as one who distorts God's truth and violently deconstructs God's created order. St. John wrote that, "the devil has sinned from the beginning" (1 John 3:8). He shed more light on the nature of the devil and his evil in a conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees: "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44).
    • 21.  The deception, deceit and camouflage of the evil one:  A senior supervising devil tells a devil-novice: "Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.” “. . . if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. I don’t mean on really doctrinal issues; about those , the more lukewarm he is, the better. And it isn’t the doctrines on which we chiefly depend for producing malice. The real fun is working up hatred [between parties].”  With brilliant insight Lewis pens the words of the senior devil on how the evil one want Christianity to be used: “Certainly we do not want Christianity to flow over into their political life… we do want men [to] treat Christianity as a means… to their own advancement… You see the little rift? “Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason.” That’s the game.”
    • 22.  CIVIL RIGHTS  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS  RELIGIOUS CORRECTESS  ONE RELGION (VALUE) IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER  EMOTIONAL EMPATHY
    • 23.  Moses in the book of Exodus (32: 19-21) writes of his own zeal. When coming down from Mt. Sinai after receiving the Tablets of the Law from God Himself and seeing the Hebrew people worshiping the golden idol “Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tables out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it upon the water, and made the people of Israel drink it. And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought a great sin upon them?"  Consider David’s courage, diligence and zeal in standing up to the Philistines: "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand…”(1Sam 17: 45-46).  The Prophet Elijah proclaims his own zealousness for the Lord: “. . . the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the people of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, thrown down Thy altars, and slain Thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." And He said, "Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord" (1Kg 19: 9-11).
    • 24.  Consider St. Luke’s account of the zeal of a follower of Christ, who proclaimed Christ’s teaching even though he had not yet been given the baptism of Christ Himself: “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent [zealous] in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue… ” (Acts 18: 24-26)  Examine how St. Paul’s instructions to the Romans (12: 9-12) can be a model for our own zealous commitment to Church reunion: “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Indeed we must have “a zeal for God.” (Rm 10: 2)
    • 25.  Pastors must find combat strategies to overcome the Godless secularism that is attacking Christ and His Church, and which is a serious threat to the salvation of ourselves and our loved ones as well as of all mankind. Recall the words of St. James: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Jas 2:14). What might be some “works” of our Christo-centric moral and value strategy? Reflect the spirit of St. John the Baptist in today’s age:  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mt 2: 1-6).  Our wilderness may be no further than our own parish churches, our families, our friends, our neighbors, our news media, our Politicians. Some examples: activities such as: action committees, book clubs, conferences, e- mail action groups, lecture groups, pilgrimages, right-to(all)-life action groups, social events, study groups. Strengthen the Domestic Church
    • 26.  ”. The existence of a “home church” dating from apostolic times comes right from St. Paul. In his instruction to the Romans (16:3,5) he says: “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, … greet also the church in their house.” And to the Corinthians (16:19) he says: “The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, send you hearty greetings in the Lord. “.
    • 27.  Ideally, a true Orthodox Christian domestic church in our day should look like (but is not limited to) something like this: Jesus Christ is at the center or hub. Husbands, and wives, as such, and as fathers and mothers, should be the leaders of the "church at home" in Christ's name. They should bless one another and their children, bless the food which is partaken, give thanksgiving for all that God has provided (house, furnishings, etc.), thank God for health and talents, and lead by the sanctity of their conduct as well as their words (Morelli, 2005c).  No catechesis can take place without the full deployment of the Domestic Church. The Orthodox family home has to reflect in its entirety the teachings of Christ and the application of these teachings as understood by His Church in the world today. Formal parish catechetical lessons usually at best may last 45 minutes to 1 hour a week. The number of hours in an entire week is 168 hours. Considering of the importance of models in shaping behavior, how much impact can a 1 hour Church School have when it is not reflected in the family lifestyle during the other 167 hours comprising the week?
    • 28.  Children are probably among the greatest hypocrisy detectors in the world. When they witness and experience a discrepancy between what they are taught by Christ and His Church and what is practiced in the Domestic Church the consequences are spiritually and morally devastating. The disconnect is immediately seen. The children's faith in the credibility of the Christian understanding of husband-wife, father- mother, family life and/or the moral authority of Christ and the message of His Church is shattered. Contemplate Our Lord's dire warning: "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea." (Mk 9:42).
    • 29.  It all begins with pre-marital counseling  Evaluation of  Commitment  Loyalty  Moral values  Sexual intimacy  Importance of the God, the teachings of Christ and His Church  Romance
    • 30.  Companionship  Forgiveness  Trust  Respect  Sensitivity  Sex-Gender roles  Physical attractiveness  Sexual faithfulness  Faithfulness during times of trial and tribulations
    • 31.  Romantic Love  Togetherness  Romantic Fulfillment  Fear of Being Alone  Rejection Phobia  Inclusion  Trapped  Perfectionism  Disapproval
    • 32.  Permission Seeking  Domination/Submission  Pleasing Others  Anti-Negotiation  ENTITLEMENT  RECIPROCITY  NAGGING  Help Addiction  Superman/Superwoman
    • 33.  Achievement  Romantic Personalization  Parental Personalization  Conflict Phobia  Justice  Coercion  Hopelessness/Helplessness  Ultimatum  Disclosure Demand
    • 34.  Truth  Sameness  Disclosure Phobia  Mind-Reading
    • 35.  THE UNHOLY TRINITY: ENTITLEMENT RECIPROCITY NAGGING
    • 36.  You feel you deserve love, happiness, respect, because of your “title” (mother-father/husband- wife) and when people do not live up to your expectations you have the right to feel angry and taken advantage of.  Antidote: Preferences based on love and people’s freedom
    • 37.  You feel you have the right to have others do for you if you have done something for them even if they never agreed or even knew about it ---a unilateral contract  Antidote: be upfront tell people what you want if you want them to do something for you before you do something
    • 38.  You feel expressing persistent reminders is the best way to get others to do what you want – people in order to maintain control over their lives will frequently do the opposite of what you want  Antidote: After a single preplanned cue, giving people freedom to be part of the decision making process in their own behavior
    • 39.  HUMAN LOVE IS INCORPORATED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD- DIVINE LOVE  ST. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA: “HOUSE OF GOD”: “I AM IN THE MIDST OF THEM” [MT 18:20]
    • 40.  MARRIAGE IS THE IMAGE OF GOD’S FAITHFUL LOVE FOR ISRAEL  THE CROWNING: JOY: THE COUPLE IN A SPIRIT OF LOVE IS UNITED FOR ETERNITY; TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO THE LIKENESS OF GOD BY EMMANUAL (GOD WITH US) [IS 7:14] ‘DANCE AROUND THE GOSPEL BOOK MARTYRDOM: ENORMOUS SELF SACRIFICE: THE COUPLE BECOME MARTYRS IN THEIR OWN RIGHT: KENOSIS-THE SELF EMPTYING CHRIST
    • 41.  The Orthodox Wedding Ceremony. After praying that the servant and handmaiden be united by God, the priest continues: “Unite them in one mind and one flesh, and grant them fair children for education in thy faith and fear [acknowledging the awesome, transcendent God].
    • 42.  By their marriage Orthodox couple is ordained so to speak or commissioned to create an Orthodox home and family (The Domestic Church). This is the vocation of Orthodox marriage.
    • 43.  This requires that parents not only be hearers of the Word, but also doers of the Word. They must learn the way of God, particularly His design for marriage and family through study, prayer, being united to His Church through obedience, reception of its Holy Mysteries and practice of the spiritual life.
    • 44.  Orthodoxy: It is all interrelated  Its all about connections. I am referencing Church Tradition, Sacred Scripture, the Divine Liturgy, prayer, the counsels and sayings of the Church Fathers, icons and architecture, music. Orthodoxy is a unified whole, all parts interrelated and connected, which at the end presents a spiritual perception that transcends any of the parts taken alone. Essential to making these 'connections' efficacious in the journey to eternal salvation is the 'Domestic Church.'
    • 45.  Several years ago The Learning Channel (TLC) ran a TV series developed by science historian David Burke called Connections. The premise of the show was that one cannot consider the development of any event in isolation. Rather, all must be seen as a gestalt, a web of interconnected events. This is a perfect definition of the Orthodox Church of Christ and how the revelation of Christ and the mind of His Church should be taught as well.
    • 46.  The use of 'connections' in pastoral function is consistent with study findings from educational psychology research laboratories. In a review of the literature on transfer of learning, Sternberg and Frensch (1993) point out that numerous studies indicate transfer [improved learning] is likely to occur when material is presented: in multiple settings, is organized, that is to say "connected" with material already known by the student; when common themes are highlighted across different lessons and when students are challenged to apply these themes to new learning. Similarly, Greeno, Collins, and Resnick, 1996 point out the importance of "multiple representations of content." Greeno, J. Collins, A. & Resnick, L. B. (1996). Cognition and learning. In D. C. Berliner & Calfee, R. C. (Eds.) Handbook of Educational Psychology. NY: Macmillan.  Sternberg. R. J., & Frensch, P.A. (1993). Mechanisms of transfer. In D. K. Detterman & R.J. Sternberg (Eds.). Transfer on trial: Intelligence, cognition and instruction. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
    • 47.  A teaching moment is a real life, media mediated or question prompted event that is used to initiate a discussion about a topic or present a lesson.
    • 48.  Parents and child are walking on the street and they and their children observe two individuals of the same sex in a ‘passionate kiss.’  A child has to step-over a homeless, poorly clad and unkempt person sleeping on the sidewalk
    • 49.  A family is at home watching the TV news after dinner: A segment including streaming video and commentary of a gay rights parade is being broadcasted.  A same sex couple is being interviewed, and they proclaim their ‘unbelievable’ happiness that now they have the ‘right to marry.’  A popular magazine shows pictures of a young unmarried teen star (& model), who is pregnant.
    • 50.  In Church School Class, Workshop, Teen Discussion Group, or planned Family Discussion time (or un-resistant personal conversation):  Hey (Jack/Jill) have you ever seen two boys or two girls ‘really’ kissing, what do you think?  Jack/Jill, your classmate Mary, just got herself pregnant ..how do you feel about that?
    • 51.  What makes this problem distressing to pastors, parents, church school teachers and confusing to the children is that the star played the role of a "moral heroine" on the show. She talked about sex in the context of committed relationships and marriage. She dealt assertively with peers who wanted her to try alcohol, drugs and the like. She was described as "standing up for her beliefs."
    • 52.  Talking with children does not mean preaching. Adults can be preached to. Children have to discover for themselves. The best way to talk with children is to first ask them how they think and/or feel about the topic. Then see if they can make the connection to Our Lord's life and teachings. The English word "education" is derived from the Latin word "educare" which means "to draw out." Parents, pastors, teachers may have to help draw out these connections.
    • 53.  The discussion should focus on the love God has for us and the love husband (father) and wife (mother) have for each other in a God- blessed committed relationship (Blessed by God in the Orthodox Marriage Service). Parents should focus on this "as the same love we have for you as our children.” This is the same love we should have for one another.
    • 54.  The discussion should focus on the holiness of sex, its part in God's creation  Example questions:  Who created us? (God.)  Who does God get to help him? (Mommies and daddies. Older children may want to discuss the physiology involved, parents should be un- anxiously straightforward and choose age- appropriate terms etc.)  How does he choose them? (He blesses their marriage.)
    • 55.  The theme of this discussion is that since the fall of our first parents, we are inclined to do what we want and not what God wants. God loves us and if we love Him we want to do what He wants, (follow His will).  Example questions:  Have you ever done anything wrong?  If you have done wrong what can you do? (Answers: ask forgiveness, repent, do better, follow God's will.)  Have you ever done anything God would be unhappy about?  Have you ever done anything mommy or daddy would be unhappy about?
    • 56.  God's Love, Mercy and Forgiveness  The child should be helped to see God's never ending love, mercy and forgiveness. The Gospels are filled with examples of Jesus forgiving the sins of those whom he encountered. Parents may want to mark a few passages so they could go over them with their children. With older children, parents and children should read the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), and the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 3-11) look at the icon depicting the parable and event. Children should be asked for the meaning of these passages in terms of the current news story and their own lives.
    • 57.  If you have done something wrong (fallen short, sinned), are really sorry, and ask God to forgive you, what will He do?  Because you have done wrong does it mean God, or mommy or daddy does not love you?  Does God want you to displease Him (sin against Him) again? (cf. Romans 6.)  What is the best way to please God after displeasing (sinning against) Him? (Ask forgiveness [for older children, especially by going to Confession] and try with all our heart not to displease Him or sin against Him again.)
    • 58.  Does Jamie's pregnancy outside of marriage cause God to stop loving her? (No, He hates her sin, but not her, just as we, your parents, hate when you disobey us, but still love you.)  Does God want you to love her?  What can you do to show your love for her? (Pray for her, pray she asks God to give her the grace to grow in His love of Him, obey Him and do His will.)  Because she did something wrong is it OK for us (you) to do something wrong?  What is more important: To please God or your friends?  What is more important: To do what pleases God or to do what you see movie stars do?  Why not? (Because we want to love God with all our hearts and mind, so we can please Him and be with Him in paradise.)  What do we do when we or someone gets in trouble? (Pray for them. So we should pray for Ms. Spears, and all those whom God loves, and that means all of us even the worst of sinners.)
    • 59.  Connecting God’s Love with our love of God:  The best way to show our love of God is to love Him and do what He has commanded; pray with all our heart to know, love and serve Him. Pray that Our Lord's words to the woman caught in adultery be what He would say to this popular actress and ourselves: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again" (John 6:11).
    • 60.  Priestmonk Christodoulos (Angelou, 1998), biographer of Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, said of the Elder: "He only saw the good things in life and was blind to every evil." Fr. Christodoulos also said: "I believe that if someone develops positive thoughts, ... he will not be a loser, because God, who knows our deepest intentions, will do him justice."  What a beautiful way to apply the Elder's teaching to this media event. One overheard comment that reflects the spirit of the holy Elder's words was by a woman who said, "One good thing, she decided to keep her child and not have an abortion."  Especially with older children, the choice for life over death could be emphasized. They could pray that Godly choices like this could continue to be made. This could be a starting point leading to a family discussion on abortion and the sanctity of life.
    • 61.  Pastors and parish priests must engage the question of same-sex marriage. Behavioral research on effective persuasion strategies with children (the way persuaders try to convince children that their position is the right one to hold) reveals that the best tactic is to associate the message with fun and happiness, rather than provide any factual content about the message (Barcus, 1980). Also associating it as a civil rights issue. We see the tactic employed consistently in the newscasts about same-sex marriage. (Barcus, F. E. (1980). The Nature of Television Advertising to Children. In E. Palmer & A. Dorr (Eds.), Children and the Faces of Television (pp. 273-285). New York: Academic Press.)
    • 62.  First validate the feeling:  The first step is to help the child understand that just because something looks good does not make it good. In other words, if your child says that the scene of say, the happy homosexual couple, makes him happy, acknowledge it. The feeling of happiness is a real experience and denying it will either confuse him or cause him to discount what you say.
    • 63.  The child may something like, "Boy, they sure seem happy." The parish priest and/or parent could reply, "Yes, they sure do.“; "But Johnny, let me ask you a question, 'Because you are happy about something, does that mean it is good for you?'" He might answer yes, thus affirming that if something makes him happy it must be good.
    • 64.  Ask the next question as a game (older children and adolescents can be asked the questions straight up). Pick something the child really likes, their favorite food or toy for example. They should be emotionally excited about your choice; something they see as "really good." Then add some unforeseen and very unfavorable consequence that compels him to think a bit more deeply. For example: "Suppose the food were filled with poison and you would get very sick if you ate it, or suppose you were playing with your toy and an accident happened and you got hurt." Let the child discover through your questions that just because something looks good and makes you happy does not mean it is good for you. (Let the child answer)
    • 65.  “…and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” (2Cor 3: 3)
    • 66. RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
    • 67.  Emulates: the Love of God and His actions  Relationship of love between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The creation of the cosmos, living things and mankind  The self-emptying of the Godhead in taking on our nature  The love of Christ for us by His Passion, Death and Resurrection
    • 68.  To treat a prohibition on same-sex marriage outside of its Divine context is easily interpreted as arbitrary and capricious. Some smart children and adolescents will sense and perceive this. Priests, parents and educators have to be able to answer the question their children's ultimate question: Why? Of course in their own education process, the parish priest parents, spiritual director must focus on spirit, not rules.
    • 69.  THE SCIENTIFIC & ORTHODOX REALITY:  Sex: What a person is biologically.  Sexual Orientation: The sex of the individual the person is sexually attracted to whether same-sex or opposite sex attraction.  Sexual Desire or Strength: The degree of attraction, from weak to strong.  Sex Partner Differences in Arousal: Males: Multiple partners. Females: A single bonded individual.  Gender Identity: The sexual characteristics a person perceives himself as having that are socially defined, irrespective of their biological sex.
    • 70.  If the term sex is replaced with the term gender, then biological concreteness is subsumed by cultural values leading to the confusion we see today: the denial of male-female distinctions, the reformulation of human relationships (such as marriage) in culturally relative terms.
    • 71.  Proposals by some (thank God very few) to ordain ‘female priests’
    • 72.  "You're right, we're made in God's image and have to be like Him." "Making kids is God's work." "Yeah! I know what having sex is all about, two girls or two guys can't 'do it' the same way as a girl and a guy can." "Wow! Two fleshes become one flesh, and the child is your flesh too, I never thought of it that way. So marriage has to be holy too!"
    • 73.  Younger children may find it difficult to conceive of the meaning of "one flesh." St. Paul himself said: "This mystery is a profound one…" (Ephesians 5:32). I have found it useful to use concrete objects that a child is familiar with to illustrate more abstract concepts. Most children play with blocks and have experience with various geometric forms in games such as pegboard etc.
    • 74. MALE –FEMALE—HUSBAND-WIFE BECOME ONE
    • 75. CANNOT BE JOINTED TOGETHER
    • 76. CANNOT BE JOINED TOGETHER
    • 77.  One of the stumbling blocks in any discussion of homosexuality and same-sex is the charge "Don't judge!“ Secular moralists are using it to obliterate any distinctions between what the way the Church understands scripture concerning right behavior and relationships.  Nevertheless, the charge stops many Christians in their tracks. It's also a powerful shaper of young minds. Children want to be fair. They may know homosexuals, or even children of same-sex couples. "Don't judge!" translates into "You've got to be fair!" This should be dealt with.
    • 78.  St Luke's words, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, 'This man receives sinners and eats with them'" (Luke 15: 1-2).  A child may be asked, do we see Jesus ever condoning prostitution or thievery? Of course not. At the same time, Jesus saw the prostitutes and tax collectors as more than their sin. He reproved the religious establishment, the people who thought that because they had a lock on religion they were guaranteed a place in the kingdom of God, with some harsh and unexpected words.
    • 79.  A child may be asked, "How could this be applied to gay people you might meet?" If the child knows someone who is homosexual, use the name of his acquaintance. More thought- provoking questions include: "How should we treat someone gay when we meet them?" "What should be our mood?" "How should we think about them?" "Should we pray for them?" "What did St. Paul say the purpose of God's kindness was?"
    • 80.  Tom may be gay, but he is also a child of God.  Jane is free to act the way she wants, she can choose to live the way God asks us to act according to His Will or 'do her own thing.' I will pray for her.  Jesus has told us that only a man and woman can marry and be blessed by the church. Tom and his male friend cannot have a blessed marriage in Christ.  If a male-female couple decided to just live together or get a "justice of the peace marriage," it would not be blessed either.  All of us, male and female are asked by God to love and obey Him, but it is our choice.
    • 81.  I cannot judge Tom, only God judges, but I can pray that we all do God's will.  Jesus told us Jane cannot be married to her girlfriend, but God also gave us free will. I will pray for them. God told me to only look at myself—I sure know the sins I have done.  Listen, I have chosen to live my life the way Jesus has told us. I may mess up, but I keep trying.  Just because Tom and his friend, and Jane and her friend were "married in court" doesn't mean it is blessed by God. God only blesses a man and a women who marry in church.
    • 82.  Please note that the script models the essentials of a Christ-like response: kindness toward all; non-judgment of persons (judgment belongs to God only); and affirmation of the truth that only a blessed marriage between male and female is acceptable to God, and humility in that we are to judge ourselves, not our brother or sister.
    • 83.  O Lord and Master of my life, do not give me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk  But rather give me the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to thy servant.  Yes, Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, For blessed art thou unto ages of ages. Amen

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