Music on Monday

The Gregory Brothers, featuring Weird Al – “Bad Hombres, Nasty Women”

(Originally from the New York Times, but I couldn’t get their player to embed here.)

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The strong and the weak

“There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

In Luke 16, the Bible relates the story of a rich man and of a poor man named Lazarus. The rich man, who remains unnamed, has a life of luxury, filled with good things. However, when he dies, he is sent to to hell, a place of eternal suffering. Lazarus is a beggar, a man whose days are spent sitting at the rich man’s gate, sick, hungry, and afflicted, hoping to survive on that which the rich man considers garbage. Lazarus, too, dies, but he is transported by the angels to heaven, to paradise.

One of the very unique things about the Judeo-Christian tradition is its value on the individual. People are individually responsible to follow God irrespective of one’s station in life, however, regardless of one’s ‘lowliness’, each is called to be a valued individual, worthy not just of a name, but also to be called a son of God. From the perspective of a rich person, this may be shocking, but from the perspective of the lowly, this is absolutely life-changing; that one’s worth is figured in relationship to God, rather than in the utility to someone else. The wicked twist this to mean that the masters will inflict Christianity on their servants to ensure compliance, but not see that for those who are weak, obedience is not necessarily to the worldly master, but to God, which is a condition that evil people cannot tolerate. For them, they believe that the world is as described in the Harry Potter quote above, unable to understand that there are many people who are stronger in their ‘weakness’ than can ever be rationally understood.

(Tangentally, these posts touch on similar themes: Challenging a licentious society didn’t imprison women; it freed them. from Bookwormroom and We did the sexual revolution once before. It didn’t go well. byEric Metaxas – via Breakpoint/LifeSiteNews.)

This all brings me to a story in the news the last few days. Last week, somebody came by and destroyed Donald Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It turns out that the culprit was a rich, middle-aged, white man by the name of James Otis. Otis is heir to the fortune of Otis Elevators. While technically, he faces large fines and jailtime for this destruction, he has no problem paying the best lawyers to get him the best deal to avoid any serious trouble. He can smugly lecture the public about his reasons for doing what he did, but in fact, he showed no bravery doing so because he knows there will be few personal repercussions for it.

Contrast this to a poor, homeless, black woman, who, now that the star has been repaired, has taken it upon herself to ‘guard’ Mr. Trump’s star. She has been ridiculed for ‘defending’ a rich, white man, she has been harassed and demeaned for her actions, not just to the point of words, but to the point where people have laid hands on her and have destroyed some of the very few possessions that she has. Who is the one showing courage here? One of the people harassing her even videotaped some of what this woman has been put through, probably to ridicule her even further, to ‘prove’ that she is crazy, then, when faced by a backlash in comments and such, cluelessly posts that he’s closing comments because he’s been lambasted as a bully. Who’s crazy here?

And while I can’t claim that this woman is Lazarus, I am struck by the parallels here, that it is the rich man who can flaunt his iniquity for, but the poor person who suffers for holding the ‘wrong’ opinion. In secular understanding, the rich man is the one who has ‘won’, but for those of us who refuse to submit to secular understanding, we know that this woman, in her filth and ‘ignorance’, displays a dignity and spirit that this rich man could never imagine.

And the church came crashing down

The Chicago Tribune posted the following story: No injuries reported when church building collapses in Wicker Park. Although the church was called the Mision Cristiana Church, as soon as I saw the address of 1905 W. Schiller (which also appeared in the preview to the story), I knew exactly which church this was – it was the church that served as the original home to Holy Resurrection Cathedral, one of Chicago’s earliest Orthodox Christian Churches.

In the late 1800s, efforts were being made to establish an Orthodox Church in Chicago. Of course, being Orthodox, there were plenty of jurisdictional issues. However, out of a shared rental space, three Orthodox Christian cathedrals would be established – Annunciation (Greek), Holy Trinity (Russian/Orthodox Church in America), and Holy Resurrection, under the auspices of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

According to Holy Resurrection’s timeline on their website, California-born Fr. Sebastian Dabovich (now St. Sebastian of Jackson and San Francisco), made a number of visits to Chicago between 1893 and 1905, with the express purpose of helping organize and establish the parish there. The property at 8 Fowler Street (later changed to 1905 W Schiller) was purchased, and the first Liturgy served in its chapel on July 4, 1905. Two months later, Fr. Sebastian was raised to the rank of archimandrite here, and from Chicago he was put in charge of the “Serbian Mission”, whose territory encompassed the entirety of the United States.

The parish continued to operate using the chapel of the existing building at 1905 W. Schiller until the 1930s, at which point the parish won a suit to purchase the lot next to the house that they owned and erect a church on the parcel of land. With the Great Depression in full swing, the Chicago Tribune reported that at this time (1932) that this church and the Post Office are the only buildings being built in the city.

Holy Resurrection continued to call this church home until 1971, at which time they sold the building and broke ground on a bigger temple located further northwest in Chicago. The building was sold to a church called ‘Mision Cristiana’. When the Wicker Park district was being considered for landmark district status in 1991, this church declined to be part of that. Mision Cristiana Church sold the property in 2015 for an undisclosed amount, to developers who were hoping to create two single-family homes from the original buildings, and transform the church itself into a two-unit townhome. (This article here demonstrates the layout of the property fairly well.) However, at about 6am this past Monday morning (24 October 2016), much of what remained of the buildings came crashing down, not only on the property, but on the sidewalk, and into the street, severely damaging cars parked there.

According to the site DNAinfo.com, although several permits had been obtained and work was being done, a stop-work order had been issued in July, citing work beyond what the permits allowed. (Do note that in that same article, there is an interview with “one of a team of 15” who were working on the interior demolition of the church structure.) DNAinfo.com also reported that the city immediately ordered the demolition of the entire site and that the developers will need to start from scratch as far as plans and permits for the site. (More pictures can be found here: http://abc7chicago.com/news/part-of-wicker-park-church-collapses-several-cars-damaged/1570076/.)

It’s sad that the church is gone, even if it hasn’t been the home to Holy Resurrection for many years. However, that being said, I have very ambivalent feelings towards converting churches into townhomes, condos, and the like. It certainly is a trend, not just in Chicago, but in other expensive property markets where congregations cannot support the upkeep of the property anymore. The developers often talk about wanting to “respect” the history of the place, but I don’t know that there’s necessarily a “respectful” way of converting a sacred space to the mundane. (The developers for condos that were created from Our Lady of Good Counsel Church – not far away, at Western Ave. – were given permission to retain the Catholic Charities star in the design of the condos, for example. Artist rendering here) In that sense, and in particular because of St. Sebastian’s influence at Holy Resurrection, maybe it’s for the best that this place, if not retained for something sacred, is a place that needs to be rebuilt anew, rather than ‘converted’.

(H/T to the General Mihailovich blog for info.)

The Saturday Night Live smile is back

I wrote earlier about ‘Insincerity as an art form’, and if anything, Hillary Clinton’s antics in yesterday’s third debate only served to prove that point again.

I get that people don’t see her as a naturally warm, compassionate person.

I understand that when she isn’t smiling, this sort of thing gets written: Facial analysis: How Hillary Clinton’s Resting B—h Face could be swaying voters

I also understand that she’s trying to make it seem like everything out of Donald Trump’s mouth is meaningless drivel.

However, in watching the debate, I was completely ‘creeped out’ (to say the least) to this reaction: SICK! Watch Hillary Clinton Laugh When Trump Mentions Gays Being Tossed Off Buildings.

First off, if this had been (almost) anybody else, the media circus would have savaged them terribly by now, and would demand their head, so to speak. But this morning, from the major news sources, there’s nary a peep. Even in this Daily Mail post dealing specifically with Clinton’s continual weird smiles, there is no mention of some of the most inappropriate times that they came up.

Secondly, if Hillary wanted to make people think that she’s a warm person, laughing about people being persecuted and slaughtered in countries from which the Clinton Foundation has accepted lots of money certainly isn’t the way to accomplish this. However, if one is to believe the words from the media today, Donald Trump is the one who really ‘slipped up’ by suggesting that there is malpractice afoot in US elections.

(Then again, for those paying attention this was all predictable.)

The War on Reality

I suppose that things like this “The newest thing deemed totally RAAAAACIST by the Marxist Morons? Science!” shouldn’t be surprising anymore. I can’t say “surprise” was the immediate reaction I had to this.

Then again, when, already back in the 1960s, we started getting drug-inspired mumbo-jumbo quasi-religious poppycock filling the airwaves with the idea that there is no such thing as reality, I really am not surprised. Take for example, the Beatles’ song “Rain”

I can show you that when it rains or shines
it’s just a state of mind…

or Donovan’s “There is a Mountain”.

First, there is a mountain
Then there is no mountain, then there is…

Now, I am not doubting the power of the mind and its untapped potential. As an Orthodox Christian, I am in awe of stories even of modern-day ‘mystics’, such as Elder Porphyrios who seemed to be able to know things about people without having met them before, and could communicate with others from a distance (sans telephone). The difference here is that this is not a denial of reality, but an augmentation of it. But when the Beatles sing about rain or shine being a ‘state of mind’, please demonstrate that if one walks out into a rainstorm, he doesn’t get wet.

Science is a discipline that is supposed to add to the human experience by observing reality and then basing judgments on this, in theory for the betterment of humankind. Many people see science and religion as opposing each other, but in fact, their purpose is not the same, nor do they ask the same questions. In both cases, one ought to be on the search for truth. Science may not be able to explain a lot that is understood as ‘religious experience’, but then again, there are tons of scientific questions that have been answered and now seem elementary that remained mysteries for thousands of years. For example, we don’t necessarily see germs, but even children are taught not to do certain things to avoid sharing and spreading germs, whereas just a couple of centuries ago, this was not understood at all. But yet, it seems like a step back into the dark ages to proclaim that just because a scientific fact may be ‘hurtful’ to someone’s sensibilities, the whole world ought to revert to a rejection of what really is.