Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania’

Have you ever heard a couple million people cheer all at once?  Have you ever heard them continue cheering for three-quarters of an hour?  It was moving, but also a little creepy!

So there I am, IBS’ing under an open window (upper pane) a little after 11:30 ET tonight (Wednesday), out of reach of TV and radio.  The Phillies-Dodgers game was in its 6th inning when I had last seen or heard it.  All of a sudden I hear a dull roar outside – not from my neighborhood!  I don’t live in a very noisy part of Philadelphia, so this was definitely coming from some distance away.  It was like the sound from outside a stadium – but the stadium in question was about 3,000 miles away!  So basically this was the whole Delaware Valley cheering the Phils’ 5-1 win in Game 5 of the NLCS, clinching the National League pennant for the first time in 15 loooong years, punching their ticket to the World Series.  After a moment my own neighbors joined in with yelling and firecrackers.  But then it was quiet.  I think Philadelphia was getting into its cars, because about ten minutes later, the roar started up again, accompanied by more firecrackers and car horns.  And it went on like that for 45 minutes!

I’ve never heard anything quite like it in my life, not even for either of the Flyers’ Stanley Cups.*  I guess exasperation can unite a region when it finally breaks!

Does God pick winning or losing sports teams, athletes, plays?  Apparently it’s not uncommon or unusual in Orthodox countries to offer services for national sports teams.  Well, IIUC God’s Uncreated Energies, and Holy Spirit (One of the Trinity), are “everywhere present, filling all things.”  What I’m not clear on myself yet is where God’s Energies leave off and the created energies of non-human creatures / objects come into play, like wind, gravity, the weather, lighting, what umpires see, etc.  But human free will is definitely involved in athletes’ self-conditioning and practice, choices and performances, teamwork and precision, as well as how umps decide to rule, and coaches decide to call; that’s not God.  Though out of human decisions and created energies, God works to try to bring about good, in particular, people’s Salvation or Theosis, Godlikeness.  This is the ultimate object of all Orthodox prayers of petition, eg, “grant their saving petitions and eternal life,” “which conduce to salvation,” etc.

(*–I was in suburban New York when the Phillies last won the World Series, in 1980, so it wasn’t the same for me anyway!  In fact, I was attending a Catholic high school seminary, so we couldn’t even watch or listen to the whole game because of our schedule of study hall and lights-out.  The superior of the religious community was from Kansas City, so he and I were the two people there most invested in that Series.  After Mass early each morning we both ran for the newspaper to check it out.  [“For a Special Intention, let us pray to the Lord.” No, just kidding!]  I actually don’t remember that final morning in detail though….  In ’93 I was in Seattle.  The closest I came to sharing that experience was on a mental-health day-off, driving back to town from the Olympic Peninsula, tuning in via a Vancouver BC radio station … though the following summer I enrolled in Mennonite seminary with a classmate from southern Ontario who wore her Blue Jays victory T-shirt to Biblical Hebrew class!)

Bishop JOHN (Berzins) of Caracas, (temporary) administrator of the Diocese of South America, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, is one of ROCOR’s newly-elected and -consecrated hierarchs.  Many Years, Master!

Interestingly, as their news release with lots of interesting photos mentions, he was consecrated a couple weeks ago at, and according to, what I believe is the only canonical Old Believer parish in the Western world, Nativity of Christ in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Furthermore, most of their members are converts to Orthodoxy or their families!

Old Believer is the traditional nickname for a group more accurately called Old Ritualist because they follow the Old Rite of (Russian) Orthodoxy.  In Russia they have traditionally been termed Schismatics, Raskolniki, and I believe I read that the Russian surname Raskolnikov / Raskolnikoff derives from this also.

Although the Orthodox liturgies are ancient, “usages,” or how they’re carried out, have continued to adjust a little bit since ancient times.  The Russian Old Rite derives – or persists – from practices in the Russian Empire before the 17th century.  I can’t personally vouch for everything in the Wikipedia article or others linked from it, but it seems like it gives a good idea of the topic.

The Old Rite is not just about how one holds one’s hand while making the Sing of the Cross, though like many things in controversies, that became emblematic of them and for them.  This page seems to provide the clearest description of it, relatively briefly, that I can find.  But when I try to do it, it’s very uncomfortable for my hand, almost painful, especially when going for the right shoulder, so maybe I don’t quite have it.  The main point is that while “new rite” Orthodox hold together the thumb, index finger, and middle finger to represent the Trinity, and touch their forehead, torso, and shoulders with these (with their 4th and 5th fingers planted in their palm) … those of the Old Rite hold together the thumb, 4th and 5th fingers, but touch their forehead, torso, and shoulders with their index and middle fingers (held together with the middle one bent slightly) … as everybody tries to explain.

It’s the same gesture often seen when figures in icons, including Christ (eg, from the famous 6th-century Sinai icon), hold up their hand in blessing, when it’s not the “newer” ICXC gesture.

The Erie parish is led by Bishop DANIEL (Alexandrow) of Erie, an Auxiliary Bishop to the First Hierarch of ROCOR, with an interesting life discussed in the linked article.

March 18, besides being the feast of the great Father of the Church, Cyril of Jerusalem, is also that of (the Repose of) St. Nikolai (Velimirovich, also Velimirovic) of South Canaan Penna., Ohrid and Zhicha – “the Serbian Chrysostom,” diplomat, missionary, prisoner and torture victim of Dachau, and theologian in Pennsylvania and Illinois.  He lived 1881-1956, arguably a modern Father of the Church.  He’s the author of the voluminous Prologue from Ohrid (also Ochrid), a compilation of brief saints’ biographies, feast-day meditations, and sermonettes for each day of the year … as well as many other writings.

This doesn’t really bear on Orthodoxy, but my other blog is anonymous, and this is geography-specific – specifically, North Wales, Penna., a northern suburb of Philly and home of my most convenient Whole Foods Market (formerly much better-known quantitatively, and IMHO qualitatively, as Fresh Fields), which is barely visible behind and to the (viewer’s) left of this leafless tree, branches coated the way fresh, really wet snow does in little or no wind. I took this around 6 tonight, at which time there was about 1.5 inches on the ground there; no ice, but slippery because of the quality of the snow and no suburban road plowing(!). This was the Phila. area’s first really wet snow this winter, so while driving home from shopping was an adventure of another kind, the region is artificially lit enough that it was very pretty! Glory to God for all things! Most of the snow has already washed away in rain tonight; that’s the kind of winters we’ve been having here lately, whether or not you accept Global Warming Science. (The tree looked even neater in person, perhaps saying something about the capabilities of my particular camera-phone, which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty!)

For you (us) Celts, you might be interested to know that North Wales is in Upper Gwynnedd Township; Gwynnedd is what the Welsh have called much of the region of North Wales in Great Britain since before the English got to it. The girl’s name Gwyneth, as in Paltrow, more closely approximates the Welsh pronunciation of Gwynnedd, but nobody here uses the Welsh pronunciation.

You may know Whole Foods attracts a diverse clientele, from “liberal” to “conservative” in the U.S. – the so-called Crunchy Cons, which may or may not include the very Evangelical Protestant “conservatives” who are into health food, supplements, organic food, etc. OTOH, I was recommended to Fresh Fields by a Catholic friend who lived near the store while I was a Quaker/Mennonite vegan (total vegetarian, ie, eating only plant foods) for reasons of religious nonviolence, in the early-to-mid ’90s, IOW, not at all “conservative” in the common U.S. sense! But the Crunchy Cons’ chief apologist converted to Orthodoxy in ’06. I can’t speak for or against his politics, approach to culture, writings, or anything else – I haven’t really examined them. I try to avoid politics here so this blog can serve Orthodox and inquirers of all political bents – and I assure you I myself am quite bent! 😉 I only mention him because I’m free-associating a little just now. In fact Rod Dreher might be disturbed – I say this with all sensitivity after browsing part of his conversion story and difficult experience of Catholicism – to hear of someone like me who was not only an enthusiastic “Vatican II Catholic,” but a Liberation Theology/”Vatican III Catholic,” and is still of two minds regarding the Catholic Left! (Let’s not go into it. Someday I may finish my “faith journey” post….) Though hopefully not, since we’re both in the Body of Christ now, and I guess both shopping at Whole Foods! (There are 6 in the Dallas area.)

(BTW, I will just point out for inquirers’ sake that although the political blogs “from an Orthodox perspective” that I’ve seen seem associated with the Republican Party of the U.S., many other Orthodox Americans are Democrats. I have no idea of the numerical breakdown or reasons for these facts. My own party registration – if any – is not relevant to this blog. I merely say so because based on the blogosphere, Democrats might think they can’t be Orthodox, when many are. Whether any should be this or that particular party, I also will not venture. Although I’ve read that Orthodox Monastics don’t vote…. )