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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.