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Message from Fr. Harry
Message from Fr. Harry in this time of civil unrest

 

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.  But evil people and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.  But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from Whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3.12-14). 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In the wake of the massive civil unrest and uprisings in our nation, I find it important for you to be clear about the stance of the Church, the role of the Church (that’s you) and your duties during such times.  But first, I would like to explain what is happening. 

What is Going On? 

What is going on cannot be seen by most people.  We as the people of God must STOP viewing things through political or even cultural lenses.  For the Church as a whole to abandon its post and charge to keep pure the headwater of society, and to instead move all the troops downstream to the poisoned waters is to abrogate its duty.  Politics is downstream of culture, and culture is downstream of religion.  As Richard John Neuhaus observed: “Culture is the root of politics, and religion is the root of culture.”  To fight a culture war once the culture has abandoned religion is like a fish staying in a polluted part of the downstream once the waters have been poisoned and the oxygen has been sucked out.  All the fish will die unless they remove themselves and go upstream where there is still fresh water and oxygen (orthodox Christianity, the Church), and, more importantly, start breathing the fresh water again (participating and putting God first).  Only after regular replenishment in the fresh headwater can we go downstream again, but must keep returning upstream for replenishment from the toxicity that is spewed downstream.  Otherwise, we will be poisoned by the toxic politics and culture and perish, and our time midwater and downwater will be in vain. 

We are witnessing what has been nicknamed by some “Wokism,” which is just a new form of an old para-religious philosophy the aim of which is to destroy Christianity and Christian civilization.  It is just another form of hell’s favorite philosophy:  nihilism (that belief that destruction of Godly civilization is progress).  It is nihilism that was behind the most evil and murderous movements of the past century, including Maoism, Bolshevism, and Nazism, and other forms of totalitarian atheist secularism which collectively were responsible for the mass murder of over 100 million people, nearly 50 million of whom were Orthodox Christians who stood against such militant anti-theism.  Such philosophy in any of its forms erases the dignity of the person and replaces it with a relative value to the “collective,” which is what the devil did right at the beginning—sacrifice the one for the whole is at the heart of every evil ancient pagan civilization where literally humans were sacrificed to demons for their favor and appeasement for the so-called “greater good” of the whole. 

The “woke” have taken over the decision-making positions in most facets of society, including big business (banking, tech, much of “wall street” etc.), government, the corporate media, the movie, television and music industries, among others.  They misleadingly call themselves “progressives” but are pushing actual traditional progressive-liberals and conservatives out of all decision-making positions in both the public and private sectors.  Their form of “progress” is destruction. 

A Thing for Us to Keep Central

As a parish we decided years ago that our mission as a parish is to live Biblically as God’s faithful: as individuals, as individual households, and as a parish household of Faith. 

The primary focus of Church attendance is not “us,” but God.  Church is not “about us,” it is about God.  The primary purpose of going to Church is not to get something out of it, but to put something into it.  It is not to take something away from it, but to give something in it, and that something is glory and thanksgiving to God.  That is why it is called “Liturgy” (the work of God among us) and “Eucharist” (which means thanksgiving).  If we obey this simple commandment of our Savior to keep the Sabbath Holy, and to “take eat” and “drink this,” we will do well. 

My job as a priest is NOT to do what YOU expect of me, but rather what GOD expects of me.  That is what each and every one of you should want from your priest.  Some of you appreciate it, but some of you disdain it.  Does God have to conform to you, or do you have to conform to God?  Does God have to be on our side, or do we have to make sure we are on His?  

It is interesting how God gave us a top ten priority list, and the one commandment that people seem to selectively view as optional is the commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. We as Christians have been given an even greater Sabbath of sabbaths than subsisted in the covenant of Moses.  It is our duty to keep the new and great Sabbath, the Lord’s Day (Sunday), holy.  Unless our local church is doing something morally wrong against God’s commandments, then we have no legitimate excuse to abandon this duty.  If we fail to be on God’s side, then we have no right to be disappointed that He is no longer there for our protection.  Either He is our God or He is not.  If He is our God, then His commandments are not optional based on our personal “hang-ups.” 

Where the Church Stands on the Issues of Social Upheaval in our Day

Truth does not change.   Therefore:    

1).  The Church adheres to absolute truth, and rejects all forms of moral relativism.  God alone can see all things from all perspectives and therefore alone can define and reveal objective or absolute truth.  Humans are finite and thus our view of things is always subjective unless we rely on the revelation of the One who alone can see reality from all perspectives.  

2).  The Church upholds God-revealed morality and law as the pillars of civilization, which are defined in the Commandments.  The United States adopted this view which is why the US Capitol has repeated imagery of the Ten Commandments and Moses throughout. 

3).  The Church upholds that each human person from conception to natural death equally holds in full their God-given dignity in His image and likeness as members of the one human race, and rejects any philosophy that claims that some humans are of more intrinsic value than others.  Rather, all, regardless of sex, “race,” or ethnicity have unassailable human value and unalienable God-given rights (Gal 3.28).  Beyond death, the human body still holds dignity and must be treated with respect.    

4).  The Church upholds actual justice, i.e. righteousness, and rejects all forms of pseudo-justice that favor some people above others.  “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.” (Lev. 19.15)  

5).  The Church holds that the favoring of one group over another under the labelling of marginalization on the one extreme or elitism on the other is against God’s will, for “truly God shows no partiality” (Acts 10.34; Rom. 2.11), and we are to show no partiality in turn (James 2.1).   

6).  The Church affirms and has always affirmed the Scriptural truth that all people are responsible for their own actions, and that no one must punish others for some pretended “generational guilt” as is espoused and propagated by some today.  “The soul who sins is the one who will die.  The child shall not share the guilt of the parent, nor the parent share the guilt of the child” (Ez. 18.20). 

7).  The Church stands against and has always stood against all social, government, or corporate movements that propagate lawlessness or the corruption of children. 

8).  The Church stands against all acts of theft, assault and the destruction of personal property, further compounded in its evil when it is done in the name of “justice” while putting justice asunder.     

9).  The Church holds and has always held that we should respect law enforcement, as the civil authorities, including law enforcement, are an institution established by God. “Therefore, whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment” (Romans 13.2).  We also support the legal system in properly removing and prosecuting people in civil authority who abuse their authority and break the law.  We are to obey the civil authority until such time as the government starts to require us to reject God’s principles and precepts, and the Faith that He has revealed to us to live by.  In such as case “we must obey God rather than man” and the government must be disobeyed (Acts 5.29).  We must still follow all just laws, and all of God’s commandments however, in our civil disobedience. 

10).  The Church upholds that people in positions of authority accused of breaking the law should be tried according to law by the judicial system in accord with due process.  They should NOT be “tried” by an angry mob in “the court of public opinion.”  It is immoral and irresponsible for any public official, be it our president, congresspersons, or any public official to prejudice cases of justice and cause civil strife by publicly trashing law enforcement as an institution and falsely blanket-labeling the law-abiding citizens of our nation as being “inherently racist.”      

11).  The Church upholds the dignity and sanctity of the body, and stands against all bodily mutilation.  The Church holds that the only valid reason for “plastic” and reconstructive surgery is to restore as much as possible the already mutilated body of someone who was in a tragic accident or in war, has a diseased organ or limb, etc.  Mutilation of the body under the auspices of “transgenderism” has been practiced by heathens from an early time and condemned by the Church from the beginning as destruction of God’s creation.  It is especially grievous and evil when abusively foisted upon children by the warped godless will of adults. 

12).  The Church upholds the truth that there are only two sexes, male and female, as both science and Scripture have always universally agreed.  The manipulation of the term “gender” does not change this scientific and God-revealed truth observed universally throughout human history of two sexes.  No surgery can change that the person remains the sex that they always were, but only makes them a self-mutilated male or female.  It condemns the exploitation of the mentally ill by pushing and propagating bodily mutilation in the so-called “transgender” movement.     

13).  The Church upholds sexual purity, which holds that the only valid form of sexual relationships are those between a husband and a wife. 

14).  The Church stands and has always stood against slander-filled revisionist history, libelous false “narratives” in place of fact-reporting, and the demonization of fellow human beings under false pretenses in the media and elsewhere.  The Freedom of Speech in the Bill of Rights is the freedom of people to speak against their government, not the freedom to harm fellow citizens with slander, perjury or false witness, which are all crimes, not rights.  Such crimes, under false pretenses, result in the split up of marriages, or in victims’ wrongful job termination, wrongful imprisonment, or worse, end their life.  Again, these are crimes, not rights. This is why threatening the life of a public official is not free speech, because it is the threat of life-ending violence against another human person, not free speech against government policies and actions.  Likewise, freedom of religion does not include human sacrifice, because murder is a crime, not a right.   

15).   The Church upholds that we must protect children from being corrupted, and stands against perverting young minds with sexual corruption and indoctrination under the auspices of “education.”  Thus, it stands completely against the corruption of children in public education and in educational curricula.

16).  The Church condemns the actions of persons, governments, and corporations who violate human rights by either engaging in or allowing murder, sex trafficking, kidnapping, forced sterilization, forced abortions, child abuse, slave labor, unlawful detainment, stealing land from persons who rightfully own it and usurping it under government control or the control of oligarchs for some pretended “public good,” forced starvations, and other evil acts.  China and several Islamist-controlled African nations have been engaging in genocide, meeting all five criteria for this evil crime under international law.  China is eliminating Uyghurs and Tibetan Buddhists justifying the horrific evil by labeling them “extremists,” and the aforementioned Islamist African nations are eliminating their own native Christians (Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia).  There are many other nations to be concerned about, but let us be concerned first and foremost about our own viewpoints and actions.   “The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24.1).  The Church upholds that humans are divinely appointed stewards of earth and are to be guardians against its abuse, and especially guard against the many horrific environmental crimes that harm or kill other humans, as well as those that wipe out animal populations. 15% of all human deaths on earth are the result of pollution (!), 90% of which is put into the environment by totalitarian governments and companies in the free world that are in league with them, as well as underdeveloped nations.  While many of these support “green initiatives” that financially benefit them, some of these initiatives will actually add to pollution (disposing of spent solar cells will be a huge environmental issue in the next 10 years).  God warns us that we are not to defile His earth, nor to make the land desolate (Jer. 2.7).  The Church stands with those who have proper stewardship over God’s creation, and stands against the actions of “the destroyers of the earth” (Rev. 11.18).  This includes persons, governments and corporations that release harmful and even deadly amounts of toxins and poisonous chemicals, or do viral and biological experimentation that is harmful to human life, to the wild animal population, and to the inhabited earth.  According to US Government research, the Chinese Communist Party is the worst violator of pollution as they lead the world in emitting neurotoxins, are the largest source in the world of marine pollution and debris, are the largest emitter of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, among many other environmental abuses and crimes.  Many of these same governments and corporate entities that are responsible for pollution are also responsible for a large amount of the aforementioned human rights atrocities.  When we give our money and business partnerships to these regimes we are contributing to their abusive and deadly criminal behavior.  We also must do our part locally to not harm the earth that God gave us to preserve and perpetuate life, and not consume and leave desolate. 

What Do the Atrocious Social Developments That are Happening Mean for Us? 

We are now witnessing an attempted deconstruction of civilization.  We are also witnessing faithful people under attack for their values in both the government and in the corporate world.  What do we do as individuals?  Before we discuss “action items for everyone” we need to discuss more particular things.  

Culture wars (they are not really wars but battles in an unfocused war) only erupt after a culture has already abandoned God practically on both sides, even if one side nominally still pretends to take up the banner.  There were no culture wars at the heart of the American Revolutionary War.  There were some battles, but no war.  The large majority of people were God-centered on both sides.  The war was over injustice in implementation of governance, and a lack of constitutional rule and protections, not over moral principle.  Most of the pro-British and pro-Colonies both agreed on Christian and “Mt. Sinai” principles, and both agreed that King George did not live up to these principles.  But to the pro-British this just meant that we should, like everyone else, be patient and wait for the King to die.  The point is that they only had one war to fight:  political.  We now have three levels of war going on, and the most insidious one is not even seen by those who think that the culture war is the most significant one.   

Stop fighting in poisoned cultural battles, and start fighting in the only war that matters; and even in the right war, not everyone is to fight in every battle

It is important to understand that once the culture has discarded God and Godly values, that the only war that matters is the spiritual war, which is physically non-violent, but involves standing very firm in our positions. 

As individual members of Christ, each having a different calling as different members (a hand has a different function from a foot, different from the heart, different from the lungs, etc.), we each have different battles and wars that we are called to in our vocations, that we do on behalf of the whole, just as a foot takes the weight of the body on behalf of the whole body when a person walks. 

Those in the armed services and those in law enforcement fight wars against threats to external and internal security and enemies both foreign and domestic to the constitution.  That is the calling that they have and the oath they took. 

Those in the medical field fight wars against disease, infection and injury.  That is the calling they have and the oath they took (Hippocratic, to do no harm). 

Faithful judges and lawyers fight the war against injustice (that is the oath that they took).  

Those in food service, from farming to distribution to transportation to delivery, fight daily wars successfully against hunger.  Those in custodial and sanitation work fight wars against germs and litter, sort of like the immune system of society.   

Bishops and Priests took a pledge at ordination to lead the Church in this one and only war that everyone in the Church is called to, the spiritual war against the powers of darkness.  

As St. Paul makes clear in 1 Cor. 12, not all are called to be everything, because each member of the Body of Christ has their own distinctive roles both inside the Church and in society at large.  That is what a body is:  different members with different functions coming together to make everything work both inside the church and in society at large.   

In emergencies, someone who is not trained will try to pick up the slack of one who is absent.  But rarely will an electrician be able to perform heart surgery and rarely will a heart surgeon be able to fix electrical wiring after a part of a building is destroyed by a bad storm. 

The point of all this is that while SOME members of the Church are called to fight in political wars or cultural wars, most are not.  That is the calling of some, but not all.  There is only ONE kind of war that is the calling of all believers.  Culture wars and political wars are wars “against flesh and blood.”  But “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against authorities, against the cosmic powers of this dark age, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6.12).  It is a spiritual war that only is won by people setting down earthly armer and taking up spiritual armer. 

“Discern the signs of the times.”  Some of you are “stuck” on the earthly, and that is not helpful at all to the battle that God now calls us to.  Get “unstuck.”  “Repent” (change your thinking) and discern the signs of the times (which you can only do if you actually know what God says about them, so get reading).     

While each individual in the church is called to take on these different battles according to their calling and training on behalf of the whole, this is the one and only war that all of the faithful are called to fight, and that is the spiritual war against sin, beginning with our own spiritual shortcomings (against the enemy within), on behalf of the eternal Kingdom of God for the salvation of mankind. 

The absence of the Church (that’s you and me) on the primary battle ground of the spiritual war (that is the Church and our prayer corners and prayer-laden tables at home) is responsible for letting this culture go to rot.  We are now going to try and fight a war that we are responsible for in our absence as our children went churchless for most of their lives?  Our children were taught that Church was not important by making other things more important than Church attendance, including our personal hangups and our business.  Only 33% of Orthodox Christians attend church regularly.  This means that as a whole, we as a people have failed to show the youth that God comes first, and that the purpose of coming to Church is not to get something out of it, but to put something into it:  giving glory to God and serving Him.   

 

Action Items:  What Do We Do? 

As your spiritual father, I find it my duty to give you advice after much prayer and reflection on this front.  Take it or leave it, but it is my duty to at least give it to you: 

1). We have to obey the directives of our omniscient commander in chief (God), or else we will perish:  “Bless those who persecute you…Do not repay anyone evil for evil, providing what is good before all people.  As much as is possible from your part, live peaceably with everyone.  Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give wrath its place, for it is written:  ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the Lord’…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12.14-21). 

2).  We are all duty-bound to take courage and do the work of God in the realms that he gave us.  All ministry is local.  We are not here to save the world—that is Christ’s job.  Rather, we are here to do our duty toward God as individuals, as a family, and as a parish, in the place that God put us, within the sphere of influence that God placed us.  As our Lord said, broad is the way that leads to destruction.  Focus and be the specific spiritual pillar at the gates that were forged to stand firm at this particular place against the onslaught of the evil one. 

3).  We must “swim upstream” out of the polluted cultural and political waters and distance ourselves and remove our support from all politicians who support anti-Christian policies.  “Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?” (Psalm 94.20). 

4).  We must stop allying ourselves with secular political philosophies and policies altogether.  “You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4.4). 

5).  Stop watching corporate media, which intentionally divides the population with misleading “narratives” and fires employees who speak out against such practices as being wrong.  Also stop reading divisive “clickbait” that misrepresents situations by giving a skewed view.  They “deceive and are deceived.”  Local media largely still reports facts, and a limited amount of local media is helpful.

6).  Immerse yourselves in things that are spiritually healthy and abandon those which are not.   

7).  Don’t quit your job if you are under assault for standing firm in your values.  Make them fire you for standing up for your values, and sue in a court of law for wrongful termination if appropriate.  Christians stand against frivolous lawsuits, but Scripture states that justice is served in civil suits where people are wrongly treated. 

8).  Stop looking to human wisdom, which is fallible and finite.  You need to know Christ and know His Gospel, and immerse yourself in divine wisdom.  There is no way around it, it is our only weapon against the overwhelming power of evil.  The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world because the world is fallen, short-sited, and petty.  We must abandon short-sightedness and pettiness in our own views. 

9).  Give God was is due to Him.  He must be our only God, we are to worship Him, we are to serve Him alone and not our own thoughts, negative emotions, passions or whims.  We are to avoid doing evil as Christians as we bear God’s name, and we must stop others from doing evil to another when we are able.  We are put here as God’s co-workers.  We are to give God our time, remember the Sabbath, go to His house regularly as individuals and as families.  If we are not obedient to Him, then how can we expect Him to deliver us from the machinations of those who would devour us?    

10). “Therefore, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of the Faith” (Gal 6.10).  This speaks of doing good to all those with whom we have contact, and with special emphasis of making sure to have contact with believers by regularly gathering together as a Church weekly.  We are to do good even to our enemies be they are work or elsewhere, that they might see Christ working within you. 

11).  Do not be bystanders when bad things are happening.  That is what most of society does today, and it is Godless inaction in the face of evil.  If one of your co-workers are being mistreated, you must speak up.  If we are out and about and there is violence, must immediately call local law enforcement when people are being assaulted or their lives are threatened. 

12).  If we are witnesses to people doing the right thing but then being mistreated for it, we must not be cowards, but we must take the time to go on the record to defend those who are doing good so that others may not demonize them later.  “Open your mouth for the one who cannot speak, for the rights of all who are destitute.  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  (Prov. 31.8-9)

13).  We stand firm against looting and all forms of lawlessness.  We don’t tolerate it from our friends or family, and we talk them out of participating in it if they are planning to.  That is our duty.  They don’t have to listen to us, but we are duty-bound to try and stop them.  There is no excuse for evil, and certainly we reject all form of relativistic ethics whereby some pretended “greater good” is used as an excuse to do what is wrong and evil.  If an action or series of actions are evil, then they don’t lead to a greater good, but only to more evil.  If we witness someone’s business being looted or broken into, we must take action, at minimum notifying local authorities and taking the time to tell them what you saw or show them what you recorded.   

14).  We are bound to communicate with our elected officials that they stand against wrong moves on the part of our government that are contrary to the law of God, and against the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  

15).  That we do everything we can to make sure that people are treated with actual justice.  We do not believe in false constructs such as “social justice,” but only is actual justice, that is, doing what is right by God’s objective standards toward each person without prejudice, preference or partiality.   We are to practice this in our workplaces, our households, our neighborhoods, and our church. 

16).  All human persons are created in the image of God and their value is not defined by their relative value “toward the collective.”  God put us where we are so that we do His will in the places and positions that He put us in.  We are not here to save the world—the Lord is the only Savior of the world.  We are here to do what we can in the place where God put us with the time that he has allotted us and in the positions that we hold.  We must defend the human dignity of all whenever it is violated be it in our workplace when people are degraded, or out in public when we witness someone demeaning another, or anywhere else.  We must stop people from violating the rights of others whenever we can. 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might… take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”  In the Presanctified Liturgy we pray the following Psalm verse:  “If the Lord had not been on our side, all our enemies would have swallowed us alive, all the raging waters and mighty torrent would have swept over us…” (Liturgy of the Presanctified).  Therefore, let us be on God’s side, and be suited up in truth, with a breastplate of righteousness, and the Gospel of peace to guard our footsteps, the shield of faith to be able to quench the fiery darts of the evil one, wearing God’s salvation as our helmet, and taking up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying always in the Spirit being watchful with perseverance. (Ephesians 6.10ff).  Holy Scripture is what God gave us as our primary weapon in the spiritual war that we fight.  “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3.15-17). 

Put God first.  Be strong, be courageous, and stand firm in the Lord, knowing no enemy can take our souls and our eternal inheritance. “You shall not fear them: for the Lord your God shall fight for you” (Deut. 3.22).    

Go with God, and may His Grace uphold you always,

 

Fr. Harry

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