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There is no such thing as "Pro-Life" without opposing the death penalty and with out marches and protests against poverty. Poverty is an abortionist and the largest single cause of abortion. Unless and until anti-abortionists are marching against poverty, to call themselves Pro-life is a fraud. The deeper the poverty (and lets not look only to the third world. More children are living in abject poverty in America than in any other Western nation, bar none). The biggest cause of spontaneous abortion is poor nutrition (read, "any large American city") and lack of adequate health care (read, "repeal of The Affordable Healthcare Act"). The Third World exists with a vengeance in every large American city. Not only does poverty increase the number of spontaneous abortions, but it also leads people to have abortions out of desperation. Millions of Americans have been closed out of healthcare --- the only Western Nation in which that happens (even Cuba has a better health care system), and this tragedy is smiled on and supported by Rightwing citizens. Tens of thousands of Americans who are employed full time, do not earn enough money to feed and clothe their children, and many cannot afford both adequate nutrition and a place to live. Yet, elitist special interest groups in government oppose raising the minimum wage, and do so with patently false propaganda about "lost jobs."
When anti-abortion groups, falsely labelled "Pro-Life" support pro-death legislation and pro-death economics, then the anti-abortion movement is bound to lose the battle, the battle will be lost because of the most gross hypocrisy on the part of the movement. It is interesting that the rate of abortions in Canada has been steadily dropping, to the degree that the manufacturers of the abortion drug combination have not even bothered to lobby for the approval and legalisation of the drugs here (though they have been legal in America for a long time). The stronger our social safety network grows, the fewer abortions that occur. Meanwhile, there are tens of thousands of children in America going to school without breakfast, with meagre suppers when they come home, and with parents driven to the edge even when working full time at places like WalMart. There is no such thing as a Pro-Life movement that neglects the deadly consequences of these realities. We will never, ever win the anti-abortion battle simply by demanding repressive legislation. There have to be fundamental solutions offered to people, rather than Ayn Rand flow-up and accidental dribble-down economics. A Christianity that does not place the care of the poor and the healthcare of the poor at the top of its list of priorities has scant relationship to Christ, or to the ancient Church, in which universal health care was considered a ministry of the Gospel. After all, it was two cousins of Apostle Paul who initiated the Christian health care system: it was called "unmercenary" In Constantinople, all doctors were required to work for one month a year without pay in the public hospitals in order to maintain their licenses (see my book THE INFLUENCE OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN THOUGHT ON MEDICINE). Even the much vaunted Arab medical corpus arising from the great medical centre at Jundishapur was founded by Christians from Nisibis and Edessa. It was Christians from the East Roman Empire who blended Greek medical science with Hindi pharmacology, and co-created the famous Arab Medical system together with Arabs and Persians in a pre-fundamentalist Muslim world.
Abortion is not only immoral but even blasphemous. However, the rates of abortion will never be reduced by any other means than getting to the actual root causes, and one of the primary causes is economic: the inability of people working full time, but still unable to afford to provide the basic necessities for their children, inadequate health care, inadequate nutrition, the failure of far too many Christians to march against poverty as part of a genuine Pro-Life Movement, one rooted in the Gospel of Christ Jesus rather than in a political ideology which is patently pro-death.
In Christ, Vladika Lazar.
Love is the glue that holds the universe together. This is reflected in our hymnology, "Christ the word, the wisdom and the power of God that creates and sustains all things." We can assimilate such a concept as the basis of our spiritual life, and rise above the fundamentalist and literalist understanding of Scripture.
The alternative is to engage in monumental flights of the most irrational fantasy in vain attempts to reconcile the concepts of God revealed in Christ Jesus with a literalist understanding that God Himself actually commanded the ancient Hebrews to commit the most unspeakable acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity ever recorded in history. In our own eon, those same acts would have landed their perpetrators, not in the Hague, but in Nuremburg. Yet those same literalists will ascert that God is loving, caring for mankind, just and willing to sacrifice His own son for love of mankind. And they do this in the vain hope that more civilised generations will accept their senseless attempts to justify those monstrous actions. Nor can they explain why the miracles of modern medicine that heal and save the lives of millions of people outstrip the notion of the few, if any at all, actual healings take place through their ministrations. Perhaps this is why medicine in a very modern sense, was a ministry of the Orthodox Church from the time of Apostle Paul until the fall of the Byzantine Empire, why in the Orthodox world, medicine was hospital based, the unmercinary physicians are among the most venerated of saints, and the foundations of Arab medcine were laid in Jundeshapur by Nestorian Christians exiled from the Byzantine Empire.
The perverse notion of linking the concept of justice to "punishment," rather than its original concept of putting in balance and setting matters aright, is inexcusable. God is love, and therefore the balance and adhesive of the universe is love. There is no other meaning to life than to love and be loved, and the highest manifestation of that is co-suffering love, the cosudffering love of God with humanity in Christ Jesus. But at every level, sincere love, unselfish love, is the essence of all meaning to life.
In Christ, Vladika Lazar.
Here's what we know from bonafide research and experiments:
1. The brains of people with gender dysphoria match their own gender consciousness rather than their genetically assigned gender. In 2013, studies using MRI and fMRI, at the University of Barcelona (Carme Janque Plaja, et al) it was found that certain structures in the brains of transgendered people (including the very young) matched those of their conscious gender rather than those of their genital gender. The differences were always present and were only amplified by cross-hormone treatment. The primary differences in the Plaja studies were in the sub-cortical region.
2. Among the differences which, with certainty, cannot be induced by nurture or environment, are reactions to odours in particular, pheromone-like steroids, which cause different reactions in males than in females. According to one of the world's leading experts, Baudewijnte Kreukels "sex differences in responding to odours cannot be influenced by training or environment." The same is true of specific echoesque sounds.
3. The fMRI experiments in these two areas demonstrate male to female dysphoric youth inevitably respond to these stimuli as females, not as males. Moreover, studies and experiments reveal a unique "transgender brain" that is neither an ordinary male or ordinary female brain, but is unique to transgendered people.
It becomes increasingly clear that those who attempt to convince transgendered youth that they only "feel like" they are the opposite gender of their genitals or ridicule them or call their self-awareness "sin" are doing something genuinely evil and destructive. Often such people, especially clergy (it is impossible to call them "well-meaning" They are not; they are ideologues who simply do not care) become directly responsible for the suicide death of their transgender victims.
It is well past the time when all of our religious bodies and schools become fully educated in these matters. Allow me to suggest that they have a profound moral obligation to do so, and to continue to follow the solid university and medical institution research in all matters of gender dysphoria and gender variations. It is long past the time for us to put blind ideologies and wilful ignorance out of the picture and stop the wanton destruction of other human beings, based on primitive fears and ignorance. It is not so difficult to research the valid, scientific studies, leaving out ideological anecdotalism which is without any value at all, and learn to understand these things more fully. It is only from and ideological narcissism and egoism that rightwing clergy and laity are willing to call transgendered people liars or deluded, or for that matter to call Gay people liars when they affirm that they had and have no choice, but were born Gay. To make such accusations, one is obliged to offer irrefutable proof equivalent to what would be accepted in a slander and malignment case in a civil court. Continuing to destroy or attempt to destroy people's lives in this way, trying to cover it with excuses of "best intentions" or "love" is inexcusable and genuinely evil. It is long past due that we decide to have some integrity and honesty and carefully examine all the evidence, not ideological anecdotalisms, stop making false accusations that we have no means of and no intentions of trying to prove, and accept the realities of the human condition and of people's lives. What is true cannot be a heresy and what is false cannot be sound doctrine.
In Christ, Vladika Lazar.
I want to repeat some things that I have said before because of some current political circumstances both in secular politics and within the Church: True morality consists far more in how well we care for others than in the external behaviour we demand of others. This is why moralism is truly immoral and, moreover, moralism is the last refuge of the pervert.
What is true cannot be a heresy and what is false cannot be sound doctrine. We must stop telling lies as if we were doing so to defend doctrine. We cannot demand of educated people that they must chose between God and truth, but that they cannot have both. Nevertheless this is being done, and it is not only immoral, but it is feeding atheism far more than any militant atheist could ever hope to.
Fear cannot produce sincere repentence, but only trigger a survival instinct which produces a false formula of repentence. Such repentance is not about being sorry for sins, but about regretting that you cannot get away with them. Only love can produce a true, heartfelt repentance.
Moral outrage is a form of public confession; we hate most in others what we fear most in ourselves.
Orthodoxy of the mind is merely an intellectual excercise. Until one attains to Orthodoxy of the heart, one is still an alien to the faith. This is why the prayer of the heart directs us to bring the mind into the heart.
With some sort of power, you can brutalise and bully people into what you consider correct external behaviour according to one or another "moral code," but like the law of the Old Testament, this cannot save anyone, it cannot serve for the transformation of the inner person.
Hypocrisy is among the greatest acts of immorality and sin. It is 100 times worse when the hypocrit is a hierarch or priest. It not only destroys the soul of the hypocrit but forms a stumbling block to others who seeking to follow Christ.
In Christ, Vladika Lazar.
"Reality is not the enemy of truth; truth is never harmed by reality. Reality can be despised and what is untrue can be embraced, by depising the one cannot make it false, and embracing the other cannot make it true."
"The mystery of the Gethsemane prayer and the "cup" that weighed so heavily on Christ is precisely His moral grief over the condition of mankind. Christ's moral suffering, in which, in His co-suffering love for mankind, He took the burden of our alienation upon Himself and bore it to the Cross --- His moral suffering in Gethsemane was heavier and greater that His physical suffering on the cross. His cry on the cross, "My God, why have you forsaken Me," is the cry of one who has taken the fulness of mankind's alienation upon Himself, and then He conquers that alienation, which is the source of death, by His Resurrection. Moral outrage destroys, heartfelt moral grief over the condition of others is creative and healing. "