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I am a Christian, I am an Orthodox Christian. I am a husband and a Father of 3. I am a working man and enjoy reading, writing, singing, playing music, woodworking, and being with close friends and sharing my faith with anyone who will listen.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Iconoclasm as the Gateway Drug to Heresy (Part II)


Iconoclasm as the Gateway Drug to Idolatry



Iconoclasm is dangerous for another reason. I remember when I was in the church of Christ, I was listened to a lot of Christian talk radio. One program I listened to made me think about how easy it is to make an idol of God. It is impossible to know everything about God, but we do know what God has revealed to us about Himself. When we have a scewed view of who God is, we have created a god of own making and likeness which is no god at all. This is where iconography comes in. Icons are not simply pictures, they tell stories. They are not painted, they are written (Orthodoxy refers to writing icons, not painting icons). Everything is significant and has a teaching moment within them. What is being taught are the doctrines of the Church. That is why, in an icon, realism is not the focus. For instance, a forehead may be large, fingers may be extended, clothing of different colors, the absense of shadows, baby Jesus with a middle aged man's face, etc. All are significant and make a theological point.







This is why icons are important and help keep the faithful focussed on Truth. Icons bring the faithful to a reverence, awe, and a reflection of Truth. Iconographers are discouraged from any artistic endeavors when writing icons and approach it as a good scholor would approach the Scriptures, with prayer, fasting, and study of the Tradition. Therefore, icons are much like Scripture, in that they are the plumline for us to understand and keep us in the knowledge of who God is.





I have heard that a monk once said (and I paraphrase and forget who said it) that if God did not want us to know him through images but through our thoughts, then He would have revealed Himself in our thoughts and not in the flesh. Images effect us and can drive us to toward either sin or sanctification. 















John of Damascus


"I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter, who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter, who worked out my salvation through matter. I will not cease from honoring that matter which works for my salvation. I venerate it, though not as God."




- St. John of Damascus








So how can iconoclast be more suseptible to idolatry than Iconophiles: Because Iconoclasts have no reference but their minds and thoughts of who God is. This requires a new thought of God everytime one thinks about God. This engages the iconoclast's in the possibility of making God in their own image at any given point. Whereas, those who support and venerate icons have an image of God that has been past down from generation to generation (Tradition says St Luke was the first to write an icon). Icons teach the faith. If icons are absent, it is harder to keep the Tradition firm. Ideas about God within Christian circles abound, and these from faithful good intentioned Sola Scriptura Christians. (Sola Scriptura is another subject, but I do want to point out that all heretics have used the Bible to back their heresy)






I hope you enjoy reading this, and I welcome comments!





Peace


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn...

 


Life is a series of cycles. I wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch a show with my wife, go to bed, wake up, and do it all again the next day, the next day, the next day, etc. Then, there is the weekly cycle marked by the weekends, and the monthly cycle, and yearly, and so on. What a meaningless mess this seems... 

Until, Christ comes and sanctifies time. Yes, life is a series of cycles, and there is no escaping it. But what I have learned in the Orthodox faith is that time does not need to be meaningless. There are cycles in life and these cycles have been hollowed by Christ.

The Church has a series of cycles. These cycles, past down from generation to generation and inspired by the Spirit have sanctified time and makes life meaningful.

The Church gives us praying cycles for each day. These are morning prayers, mid-day prayers, and evening prayers. There are also times of prayer in the night, but I have not excelled in the ascetic practice (and not sure if I will). This originated from the Jewish custom of praying at certain hours during the day. Handed down from the Apostles, who watched and learned how to pray from Jesus, the Church through the Trinity has hollowed the days with these prayer cycles. It would be beneficial to read these prayers, memorize them, and practice them in your private prayer closet. Yes, they may seem scripted and wrote, but it should be part of us, as natural to you as it is to brush your teeth each morning and evening, a prayer should be on our lips at least three times a day. Though St. Paul would say to pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18). The Holy Church has offered a prayer for that as well. The "Jesus Prayer" - "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner" of which can be on your lips at all points of the day. The Church also offers The Hours or Daily Cycle.

There is a weekly cycle in the Orthodox faith. Every day of the week has a meaning and serves as icons of Holy Week. In particular, Saturday is Great Vespers where the "service" is dark, somber, and reflective. This is to commemorate the night that Christ was in the tomb and is the end of the 7th day, the Holy Sabbath. Sundays, of course commemorate the Holy Resurrection of Christ and is considered the 8th day of the week, the Eternal Day. The Liturgy is well lit and is the day the faithful enter into the Kingdom of God on Earth in the Divine Liturgy.

Among these cycles are the festive cycles throughout the year. The Advent (or little lent) of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas) and the Feast of all feasts, Pascha (Easter). These two great feasts are like book ends that hold the other feasts together. The year is full of feasts that point us to Christ. There is a commemoration every day. There are several saints each day that remind us that the saints are the icons of Christ. Here is a list of the Major Feasts in the Orthodox Church:

MAJOR FEASTS OF THE CHURCH
September 8 The Nativity of Mary the Theotokos
September 14 The Exaltation of the Cross
November 21 The Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple
December 25 The Nativity of Christ
January 6 The Epiphany: The Baptism of Christ
February 2 The Meeting of Christ in the Temple
March 25 The Annunciation
August 6 The Transfiguration of Christ
August 15 The Dormition of the Theotokos
According to the Spring equinox and the Jewish Passover
Palm Sunday The Entry into Jerusalem
PASCHA CHRIST’S RESURRECTION
Ascension The Ascension of Christ
Pentecost The Descent of the Holy Spirit

Christ has redeemed the day, the week, the month, the year. The only way we can find meaning in our seemingly mundane life is to enter into the liturgical life of the Church and participate with Christians around the world in the glorification of Christ. Otherwise, what are we doing with our time?



Iconoclasm as the Gateway Drug to Heresy

The Indepictable Became Depictable

Icons are by far one of the hardest hurdles for protestants who become Orthodox to overcome. I know it was difficult for me to go from no images whatsoever to images of Christ, the Theotokos, and Saints and Angels. I was taught and I observed a surface reading of the Second Commandment "Thou shall not make engraven images" (Exodus 20:4) and so images were not an option in my initial Christian experience, even though in the same book of the Bible, God commands the making of Cherubim, a bronze serpent, among other things. Not to mention, God was indepictable because He had not revealed Himself in a form as to not be depictable at the time. But of course, when Christ comes, He is the express image of God (Heb 1:3). My surface reading of the seemingly Scriptural prohibition was challenged when I was on my journey toward Orthodoxy. To get a great exposition and well done researched article on the subject of the history, use, and necessity of Holy Icons, check out this article.

But, primarily I would like to focus on an interesting danger that the article points out. As Christians, it is dangerous and walking a fine line to assert that images are forbidden. In doing so, it is a statement that God cannot be depicted. Imagine you are Marty McFly and could travel back to time of Christ. Lets say you took with you a camera. Would you be able to take a photo of Jesus? Or would He be like a vampire, who when taking His picture He would not appear in the photo? 
If you say that Jesus was so much God and only appeared as a man and that we cannot depict Him, then you are stating an ancient heresy called Docetism. This ancient heresy says that Jesus only appeared to be human but was in actuality not human. It was an emphasis on Christ's divinity, but a de-emphasis on His humanity. 

I think it is fair to assert that if we had a photo of Jesus, we would all make copies and disperse it among us all to have in our homes and churches. It is also safe to assert that we would respect this image, venerate ( doulia - not worship, latreia) the image, much like a soldier in war with an image of his wife and kids, kissing it at night before he goes to sleep.

Veneration of icons is not idolatry. There are many arguments as to why this is true (i.e. doulia vs latreia), but if I believe that I am not worshiping (latreia) the wood and paint on the icons, then I am not! It doesn't matter what anyone "thinks" I am doing. 

In honor of the upcoming feast of Lazarus being raised from the dead (known as Lazarus Saturday), I leave you with an early image of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead from the catacombs (2nd to 3rd century AD)
 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I Am Orthodox (Part 3.3): Good thing for Heresies!

The First Seven Ecumenical Councils


The church that I became a Christian in taught me "No Creed but Christ", which ironically is a creed. The idea is that Creeds cause division, and this is true. As Christ says, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword." (Matt. 10:34). The goal was not to divide though, the goal in creating a creed was to define once and for all what the Church has always believed and to protect the Church from error. As a result, it caused a division between Truth and Error. A far cry from the Ecumenical Movement (and not to be confused with this movement) The Seven Ecumenical Councils are what I would like to focus on.

The Ecumenical Councils were not gathered together to invent doctrine nor to pit one group's truth up against another group's truth. The Councils were gathered because of rising heresies that were up against God's Truth, not man's truth. The bottom line: these were battle fields where God and Satan were at battle and the Spirit of God prevailed in all instances.

Our Lord Jesus made it clear that the Spirit would guide his Church into all Truth (John 16:13-15). The Spirit has guided the people of God, His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, into all Truth. This means the Church has never fallen into heresy, but heresy has risen up against the Church and has sought to entice Her away from her Bride Groom. This is why the Councils emerged. Not to create its own doctrine, but because heresies arose and needed to be filtered out. This is why I say "good thing for heresies" in the title. Not because I love error, but because error made it possible for the Church to define what the Church has always believed.

What is an Ecumenical Council?

An Ecumenical Council is one where the entire Church is in agreement on a subject that is proclaimed to have been maintained from the beginning. An agreement on Tradition handed down from the Apostles. In other words, its the Church's affirmation of an already believed doctrine that has been held since Christ and His Apostles established the Church. The Orthodox Church recognizes only the first seven councils to be ecumenical and therefore are authoritative in their decrees. These Councils follow the example of the first Council in Acts 15 which dealt with how to manage the growing number of gentiles into the dominantly Jewish Church at the time.

Below is a summary of each of the Seven Ecumenical Councils (Source: Fr. Thomas Hopko's The Orthodox Faith. This is a great read to get a basic understanding of the Orthodox Church. You can read it free here http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith. My comments in red which is information gathered from orthodoxwiki.org)
The Seven Ecumenical Councils
Nicea 1325Formulated the First Part of the Creed, defining the divinity of the Son of God

Why? Arianism: Teaching of Arius that Christ was a created being.
Constantinople I381Formulated the Second Part of the Creed, defining the divinity of the Holy Spirit

Why? Pneumatomachi (Macedonian) heresie. These were "fighters against the Spirit" denying the divinity of the Spirit and understood Jesus as being of similar substance with the Father, not of the same essense.
Ephesus 431Defined Christ as the Incarnate Word of God and Mary as Theotokos

Why? Nestorianism. Teaching that the human and divine essenses of Christ were seperate and there are two persons in Jesus (divine and human). Nestorius would not say (as the Church had from the beginning) "Theotokos" (Mother of God) to refer to Mary, but Christotokos (Mother of Christ)
Chalcedon451Defined Christ as Perfect God and Perfect Man in One Person

Why? Monophysitism. Taught by Eutyches, that in Jesus, the human nature was absorbed into the divine nature
Constantinople II553Reconfirmed the Doctrines of the Trinity and of Christ

Why? Because of the re-emergence of the Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite heresies.
Constantinople III680Affirmed the True Humanity of Jesus by insisting upon the reality of His human will and action

Why? Monothelitism ("one will"). Taught that Jesus had two natures but only one will. Orthodox believe that Christ has two wills in conjunction with his two natures.
Nicea II787Affirmed the propriety of icons as genuine expressions of the Christian Faith

Why? Iconoclasm (the distruction of religious imagery).

I hope this was interesting to you as it is and has been for me. Comments are welcome

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why I Am Orthodox (Part 3.2): Traaaaaaditionnnnnn!




Tradition!

One of my favorite movies is Fiddler on the Roof. Any person who loves this movie and sees this image feels a warm spot in their hearts. The song he sings in the very beginning of the musical is a song called Tradition. He says "Because of Tradition, we've kept our balance for many, many years...and because of our Tradition every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do". This is our identity as Orthodoxy Christians. This is what the world longs for in a world of relevancy, relativism, and a lack of authenticity. In the Christian world, especially in America, there is a desperate search for solid ground, tradition, roots, and authenticity. It is curious to me that those around me who are Christian but not Orthodox still feel like something is missing, and I felt the same way! Even though you go to the best rock concert, amazing sermon, emotionally charged Sunday church service at the local church, at the end of the day, something is missing. I believe the protestant/evangelical/restoration church are searching. I am not pointing fingers; I owe a great debt to these churches. As a church of Christ member, I remember thinking there is more to this. I wanted to discover the first church, and though the church of Christ were making this attempt, I also saw them being swayed by other Christian Denominations and seemed to pick and choose what part of the first century church they wanted. I delved head first in the emergent movement because this group was searching as I was. I am thankful to God for that, and here is why. If I had not, I would not have began to think outside the church of Christ box. When I did, I discovered other Christians reaching back into history to find something else. The house church I attended was a church that were primarily church of Christ former members. Our services consisted of a more liturgical feel, especially during the Lords Supper where the host was given by going up and receiving the bread and cup from those who offered it (which is not the practice in the church of Christ). I am indebted to that church for allowing me to discover the depth that Christianity can have and has had for two thousand years. It also revealed to me that Christianity has lost its identity and is searching desperately for its roots. My question to all (and please answer if you would like) is: Why re-invent the wheel when the original is already present. Christ has not left his Church nor has he caused confusion. Simply look at the Churches history and discover what has happened. People became prideful and have decided to go their own way. And we, in the twenty first century are victims to those decisions and have lost our true identity. So where should we go from here?

Go Ask Your Fathers



If you read my previous blog post (http://myorthodoxlife.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-i-am-orthodox-part-31-scripture.html), you would know that the early Church did not have an official New Testament for quite some time. In fact, the Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed was completed and affirmed before the official New Testament was canonized. This means that the Church was being guided by something for hundreds of years and keeping Her from corruption and protecting her from heresy. Again, I want to emphasize this...It was the Spirit of God through Tradition that kept the Church from error. Scripture was a product of Tradition. Who did the people go to for authority? The Apostles were no longer around and there was an Old Testament but not an official New Testament. The people went to their Bishops, and in that time, they went to the leaders who had direct contact or the closest contact with the Apostles; the Apostolic Fathers.

Let me begin with 4 of the earliest Church Fathers, who were either directly associated with the Apostle or one step removed from the Apostles.

1. St. Clement of Rome (the 4th Bishop of Rome, lived around AD 96) spoke of Apostolic Succession in the early church:
1 Clement 42 and 44
So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe. And this they did in no new fashion; for indeed it had been written concerning bishops and deacons from very ancient times; for thus saith the scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness and their deacons in faith...For this cause therefore, having received complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons, and afterwards they provided a continuance, that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration. Those therefore who were appointed by them, or afterward by other men of repute with the consent of the whole Church, and have ministered unblamably to the flock of Christ in lowliness of mind, peacefully and with all modesty, and for long time have borne a good report with all these men we consider to be unjustly thrust out from their ministration.
  
2. St. Ignatius (80-110 A.D), possibly ordained as Bishop of Antioch by St Peter, spoke of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the Hierarchy, and Unity:

To his letter to the Smyrnaeans he says:
 
Real Presence:
"Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead." Letter to the Smyrnaeans chapter 6

Hierarchy:
"...for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of His Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery (priests) and my fellow servants, the deacons." 

Unity:
"Come together in common, one and all without exception in charity, in one faith and in one Jesus Christ, who is of the race of David according to the flesh, the son of man, and the Son of God, so that with undivided mind you may obey the bishop and the priests, and break one Bread which is the medicine of immortality and the antidote against death, enabling us to live forever in Jesus Christ." Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 20

3. St. Irenaeus (AD 130-202), a disciple of Polycarp (who was disciple of the Apostle John) also speaks of the Real Presence if Christ in the Eucharist and in combating the Gnosticism states that the Church's authority comes from Apostolic Tradition, not secret knowledge.

Against Heresies

"But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Savior; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition."

"[Christ] has declared the cup, a part of creation, to be his own Blood, from which he causes our blood to flow; and the bread, a part of creation, he has established as his own Body, from which he gives increase to our bodies." 

4.  St Justin Martyr (AD 100–165), was a philosopher who became a Christian and Apologist.

 First Apology

"This food we call the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God's Word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the Word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus."  First Apology, Chapter 66

He also writes about the Liturgy in the 2 Century. This Liturgy consist of the first half being the Liturgy of the Word and the second half being the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The same way the Liturgy is done in the Orthodox Church today

In conclusion, These Traditions were handed down from Christ to the Apostles to the Apostolic Fathers to the Bishops through History to the the modern day and are still held by the Orthodox Church today. These are just some of the Traditions we hold which the first Christians believed  and were taught and have passed down to us.

Apostolic Succession
The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist
Hierarchy of the Church (as Bishop, Priest, Deacon)
Unity
Apostolic Tradition
Baptismal Regeneration
The form of the Liturgy (Liturgy of the Word & Eucharist)

I hope this was informative.

Next, I hope to discuss the 7 Ecumenical Councils and the impact they have had on my journey to Orthodoxy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Am Orthodox (Part 3.1): Scripture

A Different Direction

I would like to turn now to the three subjects that have brought me to Orthodoxy and explain a bit how my perception of these three subjects have changed since I have been a Christian, namely, the Scripture, Tradition, and the Ecumenical Councils. The Orthodox love the number 3 and these are the three "legs" that kept me solid on my way to the Orthodox Church. In this article, I will focus on Scripture. 

Scripture

Yes, the Orthodox Church has more books in their Bible than the Protestants. We are not heretics, despite some conjectures, because we have "additional" books in our Bible. As it turns out, the Protestant Church has subtracted books. It was Luther that decided to use the Masoretic text instead of the Septuagint when forming his "reformed" church during the Protestant reformation (and almost the book of James). What is the Masoretic or the Septuagint text? Glad you asked!

Masoretic vs Septuagint (real quick)

There is a lot to understand here and I guess (since you read this blog) you have access to google and Wikipedia to fill in the gaps. But here it is in a nutshell, from my feeble understanding. These two text are the two different forms of the Old Testament (Septuagint in Greek, translated from the original Hebrew and the Masoretic written in Hebrew transcribed by the Jews AFTER Jesus). But what is important to understand here is that the Masoretic text was compiled after Jesus and the Septuagint was compiled before Jesus. Here are the highlights: the first Christians used the Septuagint: Jesus, St Paul, St Peter, St John, etc. Not only did the originals use the Septuagint, the Early Church Fathers used the Septuagint. The Masoretic text was compiled (arguably, for sure) in response to Christians using the standardized Septuagint. The Masoretic text (not used by the Founder and followers) was what Luther decided to use for his Old Testament because it was what the Jews were using as their standard text during his time.
At any rate, the Bible is a bit bigger in the Orthodox church, but this is because this is what the first church considered Scripture. The subtraction of the "additional" books (known by Protestant and Evangelicals as the Apocrypha)  was not the norm until Luther in the 1500s. So, as far as Scripture, the Septuagint OT is accepted with the "additions" (even though they are not additions).

Another note about the Scriptures concerns the New Testament. (This subject actually leads to our second point, which I will discuss in the next installment...Tradition). The Bible is the product of Tradition. The church did not have a Bible as we know it at it's inception. The Church did have the Septuagint (Old Testament), but not the New Testament. Only letters and other documents circulating and read in various churches. None of these had become officially the Bible as we know it and some of these letters were read publicly and used for edification and instruction that were not included in the the later accepted canonical New Testament (Clements letters, Shepherd of Hermas, Didache, etc). The Church did not have a complete New Testament for a few hundred years, not officially! The New Testament was not universally accepted until 300s AD and not made official until the 600s AD. So, was the Church "sola scriptura" (or "scripture alone") for all those years? No they were not. The Church relied on something else. The Church, in Her Tradition has given us this wonderfully beautiful collection of books we call the Bible. It is cherished by the Church, it is protected by the Church, and it is said and chanted in the Liturgies, Vespers, and Matins services in multiple languages around the world. There is more Scripture dispensed in one Divine Liturgy than in any Protestant or Evangelical service that I have ever been to on any given Sunday. The Church did not rely on Scripture alone though, but also, Tradition...  

Here is a good site to read some of the early Christian Writings
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/

PS, If anyone would like to comment and/or ask questions, please feel free

Addendum:
Here is a great article on Masoretic vs Septuagint
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/02/septuagint-vs-masoretic-which-is-more.html 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

We Are the World's Dirt, The Worlds Mental Lab Rats, and Flowers Nourished by the Son

Last Sunday I met a very fascinating person who visited our church. I often meet such a great variety of people in the Orthodox Church. Her name is Nina, and she shared with me her experience of being a foster child all of her life until she aged out of the system. She is now in her 30s and has three beautiful children. She happened to have written an essay that was meant for her priest at the local Greek Orthodox Church of which she attends, but she gave me the privilege to read it and has also given me permission to post it here on the blog. Here is her account of a life in foster care through the eyes of a foster child. I hope it effects you as it did me.
Nina writes this preface to the essay: I'm not sure what to do with these letters, they keep falling out of me. I thought, "give them to the Church". So here Father another essay...

Journey Through the Rose Bush: The Method of Madness


My thoughts keep turning towards psychological practices in these modern times. As a foster child, these were the main "go to" ways of dealing with us "emotionally disturbed" children. In fact, once we come home from school (for those of us whom had earned the privilege of public school), we were met with hours of different types of therapy. Many of us would line up for our fill of psychotropic meds and then settle into our rigorous therapeutic schedules.
There was "issue group", where we learned how to properly criticize each other, and take criticism. Woe to the child no one liked! Then there was psychotherapy. Where we could "act" out in play our fantasies, our greatest fears, our past, our goals for the future. Then we are scolded for "not" having common sense and not living in the "real world". There was individual therapy - one on one - with a licensed professional, who is schooled thoroughly so they may heal you by seemingly loving you from a distance (i.e. "side hugs are a necessity in foster care, to protect the orphan and also staff from any rascally orphan who may falsely claim abuse in some form"). There is life stories group, where you hear the stinging and immobilizing pain cried from the voices of orphans who choke out, "I don't understand why no one wants me" or "my parents made me molest my younger brother and now I want to die cause I hate myself" or "My mom and dad tied me to a chair, naked, stuffed my panties in my mouth and beat me and my siblings with an extension cord" or "I chose to join a gang because I was so lonely and my parents were gone all the time to do drugs and party with their friends." Well, one can imagine that group is the most healing and revealing though truly painful for the talker and the listener. Then there are the "new forms" of therapy that arrive every few months that we are guinea pig to. To the orphan who has no mother- climb under our desk and lets pretend staff is giving birth to you. Oh... but wait... now, lets scold the orphan, reminding it of boundaries when it looks wide eyed at us and says "mama?". We are not parents, nor friends, we have to remain professionally distant, to protect ourselves and help you". Then there's the snapping in your ears and tapping on each knee and asking the orphan to fantasize their life going by, as if on a screen, play by play. Staff simultaneously continue to tap and snap to somehow re-balance the orphan using its senses and activating "both sides of the brain". That's odd! Haven't most humans always had two active ears? Why would snapping stand out from other stimuli heard from each ear? Oh, Maybe because it wasn't accompanied by the tapping on the knees. Silly me. Now, let's look at ink spots, what do you see? I see Mickey Mouse looking at me. "Interesting, do you mind, can I try to hypnotize you? You know this is such fun! Who should I be today? Freud it is! Moo hoo hoo ah ha haa!"
The good part of care I guess is because, staff are so busy "fixing up" we don't  have much time for TV, or video games, or riding bikes. Although, to be fair, those of who haven't "earned" public school get to stay home and color a lot. We don't  get to socialize a lot with "normal people". We are the worlds dirt, the worlds mental lab rats. Kick the dirt off your feet and wash your hands when you leave from teaching us a thing or two. Teach us how to love. Teach us how to be humble. With every slap you give our rosy cheeks, our big eyes still look to you, trustingly, full of hope... well usually. But if we don't, there's medication for that! But then how are you going to keep us awake and stop us from drooling or control our fits of anger or tendency toward impulsive behavior and suicide? How will you control the mob of orphans whose humanity seems to keep bleeding through the mental and emotional abuse of today's psychology? Well let's isolate them! Let's put these orphans in time out rooms. "Although, it's not your fault, you still need to earn everything and remember everything is a privilege and can be taken away." Then get in your Lexus, with leather interior and automatic windows. Go home to your empty books and empty lives. Your own psychotropic meds and anti depressants. Brush your teeth at night. When you floss remember God says He is the Father to the fatherless. To the very orphan! He sees everything. From the thorn bushes of psychology, may God nourish His orphans so that they bloom and blossom big and beautiful, and so sweet, despite their unfavorable conditions. Truly flowers nourished by the Son
- Nina