Friday, February 27, 2004

Orthodoxy and Magic

My good freind James is blogging about "Holy Words" saying:

Do you think there could be something holy about words? Like specific words or phrases? Power behind them perhaps?

Well, I was inspired to think about this. I have many ideas, and in some ways I want to quickly answer "no way" and in other ways I want to quickly answer "definitely!"

I am reminded right off the bad of the first Harry Potter story (movie or book, doesn't matter) in which everyone is trying to get the spell right, and only Hermione is successful at making her feather levitate: "It's levy-o-SA not levy-OOOO-sa!"

If you don't say the words just right, the magic doesn't work.

Similarly, in book three (movie coming soon to a theatre near you) in order to perform the advanced spell of a Patronis, Harry must learn to concentrate really hard on something specific. It isn't JUST that the words have to be right, it's that you have to have the right thing in your heart at the time... the right thing in your mind. The same is true of the Boggart earlier in the book.

Well, it is no small conincidence that the word "abracadabra" is an anglicized bastardization of what the Roman Catholic priest says (if he's doing it in Latin) at the moment of consecration when he is performing the Mass. After all, what is more magical than the transubstantiation of wine into blood, and bread into flesh. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic theology of a sacrament, lends itself easily to comparisons with Magic. In the Roman Catholic view three specific things are required in order for a sacrament to be valid: (a) proper form; (b) a valid ordination, and (c) proper intentions. In other words, (a) the words have to be correct; they have to be spoken (b) by the right person, and he (c) has to be thinking the right thing in his hear when he does so.

Fortunately, the Orthodox concept of the Sacrament finds this designation to be completely foreign. A Sacrament is something that brings God's Divine Grace directly into the life of the communicant. The only thing that is "required" is God, and since His Grace is abundantly spread across the entire universe, that is not a problem. He's there. The Church does identify specific things that indicate a Sacrament, and the Church does define specific sacraments, but there are no magic words and the person who says them may read them or recite them incorrectly, he may be a heretic and be thinking about some stripper in Vegas while he is standing before the Holy Table, and, while all of that is of course, really really bad, it does not "invalidate" a sacrament. Gods Grace is sufficent to reach each of us through the ordered sacraments of the Church with our without proper form, ordination and intentions. The only thing that makes a sacrament a sacrament (I will refrain from using the word "valid" because of it's juridical connotations) is the fact that it is brought to a person by the Church. And it is widely recognized that God's Grace extends far beyond the limits we may ascribe to It. The Church may ultimately recognize herself someplace that, at the time, she was reluctant to recognize herself as being.

The Orthodox Sacrament, then, far from being Magic, is Mystery instead. It is something we can identify, but cannot logically quantify. It is something that we can point to and describe, but cannot define - just as we can point to God Himself, and what he has revealed about Himself to us, without being able to adequately describe Him thanks to the transcendence of his Being. The Sacrament, then, is just another way of God revealing the depths of Himself to us. The more inexplicable the sacrament, the more closely connected it is with His nature.

~ Basil

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Picture of the Day
A Portrait of Basil-Fly

My picture for Yesterday is a portrait of ME! (Can you see the resemblance?)

I forgot to upload this yesterday. Although I scanned it yesterday I was up until about midnight doing homework, and didn't get a chance to upload it.

I believe that the little purple blob is my beard. The circles around my eyes are not from staying up too late at night all the time. I think those are my glasses. Anyway, it is nice to be so skinney. :)

And the little artist:

This marvelous little portrait was drawn by my little friend (my big friend James' daughter) Charissa.

She's becoming quite the artist, and I'm flattered to have become her study. I remember with fondness when my own daughter was cranking out amusing stick figure portraits of dad.



Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Wandering into my past...

I like to spend lent wandering into my past. (There shall be more on this topic, as the days go by, I'm sure of it.)

One place of my past is The City...

I love The City. I miss The City.

I used to live in Freemont - spent about four years living there...
Before that I lived on Queen Anne for about two or three years...
Before that I lived on Phinney Ridge - only a few blocks down from Greenwood.

I was about half way between the Woodland Park Zoo and Greenwood. So, I used to walk to the zoo whenever I felt like it. I got myself a pass, and just went there and wandered. I probably spent 20 or 30 days out of my year wandering through the zoo. I would sit there outside the animals cages and write poetry, take photos... and wander some more.

I also used to walk to Greenwood from where I lived, and wander through antique shops and thrift stores. I couldn't afford to buy either antiques or thrifts in those days. I went to the Fred Meyer there whenever I needed home improvements (a roll of masking tape, some contact paper, a few screws, a few nails to put pictures on the wall - oh, my how live has changed.. home improvements are different now: cans of paint, tiles for the floor, sheetrock, plywood, 2 by 4s) and the big Safeway (I cannot recall, but I seem to remember that it was the closest grocery store, and where I bought my groceries.)

I used to be a crazy guy: I'd buy about 8 bags of groceries and then walk home with them - four bags in each hand. (Plastic, of course.) The cute little bag girl at the store might say: "Can I take those to your car for you?" Oh, yes, indeed, you sure can! It's about 10 blocks from here and doesn't run any more, but I'd love to have the company, sweet thing.

For some reason they never carried my bags to my car for me.

Anyway, I made it to Greenwood again Saturday night.

I miss The City, but I wouldn't want to live there with my family. I guess I'm insecure now, and would rather live with my family in the suburbs where we don't have crime (to speak of). Drunkness is something that happens on a casual basis, among family friends at parties and get togethers - in quiet, simple, and controlled circumstances - no longer something that shakes the streets like a ripple of fear. And you don't have to be too afraid of strangers... you can say hi to them when they walk by and they won't swear at you or ask you if you want to buy weed, or want a "date".

I miss The City, but it really isn't "the place" for me anymore.

~ Basilfly

Monday, February 23, 2004

The world out my window might look like this:

On the other hand, it may look like this:

To me, it looks like this:

Sunday, February 22, 2004

In the Land Of Giants

A brief work of fiction

I spent the first half of my life living among giants. Of course, I'm only 17, so that might not seem all too bad to you. Eight and a half years? "What's eight and a half years?" you ask.

Well, like I say, it's half my life. And it isn't much fun sometimes living among giants. Take Papa for instance. He's the Head Giant. Don't ask me how he got such a name, but the name itself is so much like him: Big, Robust, Gigantic, Papa. See what I mean? I look up at Papa through a fierce bushy beard. They tell me he's bald, but I almost never see the top of his head, so I couldn't tell you for sure. Everywhere Papa goes the earth shakes, the boards beneath him creak, the whole house trembles. Don't get me wrong, I like him alright, and he's never done anything to hurt me, but it just gets scary sometimes living around someone so Big.

Then there's Mum. Just Mum, that's what we call her. She's a giantess too, but not nearly as formidable as Papa. No bushy beard there, just gigantic footsteps (watch your toes) that make the floor rumble as she passes by.

As far as I'm concerned we Little Ones get too accustomed to living among giants. We take it for granted that we live in a gigantic world, and so all we want is to become a giant too some day. As if that was the goal of life: becoming a giant. Well, I've decided I'm not going to let that happen to me. I'm going to keep on being a Little One as long as I can, and there is no way you can stop me. Maybe I will be tall, but I'll always be a Little One inside - never truly a giant. No, giantism isn't for me.

The Giant:

Photo taken by the Little One.