New Dating Prospects: Phil and Mike–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–November 1993, Part 2

On Sunday, November 14, InterVarsity went to a Susan Ashton concert at Elmbrook Church.

At the concert, a wonderful one with just Susan sitting on a chair with a guitar, she said she’d just married a preacher.  She talked about what it was like to be married to one.  I thought of my friend Mike, who wanted to be a preacher–and on whom I had a crush.

At the end of the concert, she wasn’t used to doing encores, but got clapped into doing one, apparently a common thing at Elmbrook concerts.

She said she didn’t know why she chose to do “Beyond Justice to Mercy” for her encore.

She wrote it because of a rift in a friendship–she was devoted but deceived–that still wasn’t repaired.  She said, you should keep trying.

I wanted to tell her that was me–Shawn and me at present, maybe Peter and me in the past.  But the timing was perfect and made me think God moved her to choose it for me.

It had been so long since she sang it–too painful, I wonder?–that she had to put the lyrics in front of her.

After the concert and in the foyer, I bought a tape of her debut album from 1991, Wakened by the Wind.  I loved this one, and it was good for mellow moods.  It had some of my favorite songs from 1991, such as “Benediction” and “Down On My Knees.”

Copy of part of a letter to Shawn, started 11/18/93, but not finished or sent:

How are you doing these days?  I don’t know if anyone’s heard from you lately, so we don’t know.  Are you feeling better, we hope?

Pearl lent us her space heater because this place is so cold.  It’s great, except when it turns on it’s so loud it drowns out whatever you’re listening to.

This dorm is like a prison these days–double-locked side doors sometimes, front door always locked, alarms soon to be put on the side doors so no one can go in or out past only 8PM!

The alarm occasionally got set off, scaring us all half to death.

I hate it here.  If somebody’s sleeping with somebody, which is often, you can hear it through the walls.  Our neighbors blast their stereos and yell and scream at the oddest hours, and keep me awake.  I feel no less isolated here than in the suites.

He’d always tell me to move to Krueger so I wouldn’t be so isolated.  But I liked having time to myself, and I could always go visit my friends.

Catherine’s leaving in the spring (or whenever) to live with her fiancé (husband by then), and Pearl and Sharon live in the new Phi-Delt suite.  I want to try for a cultural suite next year, and maybe even my own room.

I want to go back ‘home,’ and my best living arrangement was the German suite freshman year.  Sophomore year and this year are just not as good as that was.  Nothing else has seemed like a ‘family,’ and nothing else has introduced so many interesting people to me.

Living in the apartments was not yet an option.  But when I decided to live there, I discovered it was just as good as living in a suite, if not better.

Did I tell you they changed the name of Jubilee to Krueger (Kree-ger)?  The freshmen are confused and we old-timers are in revolt…

And everyone who came here since fall of ’92 has to go to a certain number of convocations and fine arts events before they can graduate.  Most of the upperclassmen are exempt, thank goodness.

The other people have to fill out these little green cards so the school can keep track for them.  The commuters and older adults really seem to hate it more than the others.

Everybody here seems to be getting wisdom teeth in–Pearl, Sharon, Jennifer’s boyfriend, and now me.  We can all feel the pain together.

Rachel’s boyfriend Ralph, too.  I’d been getting frequent headaches and jaw pains.  Somebody mentioned wisdom teeth and these symptoms, so I decided that was the cause of my pains.

My parents scheduled an appointment with our dentist for me to find out for sure, and discovered that I was right.  I would have them pulled by an oral surgeon in the summer of 1994.

On the way home for Thanksgiving Break, probably on Friday the 19th, Dad drove me down past Milwaukee in the night, probably to stop in Racine and sleep.

I don’t remember if I was talkative, as I usually was at night when somebody drove me home or to Racine, or if I sat there thinking about Phil and Mike, whom I now had a crush on.  (Usually I wasn’t pensive and dreamy about the scenery until the next morning, when I was driven from Racine to South Bend.)

It was amazing to think that there were two guys at Roanoke whom I could probably go out with soon–and that neither one was Shawn or Peter.

There had never been a time when I felt so certain while on the way home that there was a guy at RC who liked me and whom I liked, and who may be waiting for me to return just as I was waiting to see him again.

I don’t think I was sure about Mike, but there were definite signs from Phil.  I must have forgotten about James, from lack of encouragement.

I spent my free time Thanksgiving Break playing Battle Chess on our computer.  I probably did the same during Christmas Break.

Copy of part of a letter written to a penpal on 11/23/93:

So far I’ve kept on schedule with my homework.  I’m also trying to read …And Ladies of the Club by Helen Santmyer.

I found it while shelving paperback novels in a section of the main reading room.  I’d read about it in a book about writing bestsellers, and wanted to finally read it for myself.

Santmyer read Main Street when it came out and thought it wasn’t at all an accurate depiction of small town life.  So she started writing her own book–and didn’t finish it until she was an old lady, many, many years later.  Then she sold it to a publisher and it became a bestseller.

According to my day planner, I tried to read ten pages a day from November 29 until December 17.  I may have finished it over Christmas Break.

That thing’s over 1400 pages long!  It’s a library book, so I’m trying to read fifty pages a day this week.  Then I want to do some heavy reading of it over Christmas Break, which is a whole two weeks without homework.

I want to get this thing read so I don’t have to renew it too many times, and so I can get to Pamela by Samuel Richardson.

Oh, here comes my wisdom-headache again.  I’m getting my wisdom teeth in, which means pain, which means crankiness whenever the pain gets bad.  I suppose you could call it our last remaining rite into adulthood, unless you count getting drunk on one’s twenty-first birthday (which I don’t intend to do anyway).

I’d read an article lamenting modern society’s lack of rites into adulthood, and the social problems it seems to cause.

I hope they don’t have to be pulled.  I keep wondering what people did before they had dentists to pull wisdom teeth out.

This year’s got a better pick of guys at school.  I’ve actually had trouble choosing.  There’s one that likes me and keeps talking to me [in the library], but he seems so opposite to me.

He plays football, can’t read well, can’t write (his own admissions).  I hate football, love to read, love to write!  He seems real nice, but I don’t know if it would work.

At least I know somebody wants to date me.  Now if only I could be that sure about some other guys.

 

Copy of part of a letter written to a penpal on 11/25/93:

Illinois is just to the left of us, a state that’s about the same size, and on its left border is the Mississippi River.  The flooding went pretty far over, but didn’t reach Indiana.

A lot of people did help out that weren’t affected by the flood, including people from our area.

It’s hard for us in South Bend to imagine flooding like that, too, but some of my friends at college got a little of it.  The college even put up announcements for people affected by the flood that would have trouble paying tuition.

I’d like to go to Europe, which makes me pretty jealous when my friends get to go there for class or for Band.  One of my friends is in the German-speaking part of Europe with her fiancé over Thanksgiving.  [That, of course, would be Catherine and Glen.]

I’m working in the school library now, which I love.  It’s laid-back, a big contrast to my job last year in Food Service.  That one was too fast and menial for me.

Copy of part of a letter written to another penpal (I had many) on 11/25/93, Thanksgiving Day:

 Yes, I am finding plenty to keep me busy!  I’m on Thanksgiving Break now, and I have homework as well as a book to read.  It’s not as much homework as last year, so it’s been a pretty relaxed break.  And today I get to eat the traditional turkey dinner!  Yum!  And stuffing and pumpkin pie topped with Cool Whip…

I love this holiday.  I just wish they’d play more Thanksgiving movies about Pilgrims, and not Christmas movies like Home Alone.  I love seeing movies about the Pilgrims that have John and Priscilla Alden in them.

Have you read about them in Longfellow’s ‘The Courtship of Miles Standish’?  My ancestry has been traced back to them, so I love the notice they get.  Longfellow traced his ancestry to them, too, so he’s my cousin, in that sense of the word.

I haven’t copied any more of my diaries since summer.  I just have too much else going on.  I dread to think where mine will end up, too.  I don’t want my parents to see them.  Maybe I’ll leave them to my grandchildren.

Sharon said she’d rather leave her diaries to her grandchildren than to her children, and I thought she had a good reason, which I forget now.

Maybe it was because her children would be too close to her and possibly mad at her for how she raised them, and her grandchildren wouldn’t be afraid to sympathize with her.

I don’t think it was just because her grandchildren would be more interested in her life back in a time which to them would be quaint and fascinating, but to her children would just be out-of-date.

When would your mom be going to Milwaukee?  It’s just south of S–, maybe an hour away.  And a tip: The locals drop the ‘l’ in Milwaukee.  That’s how they tell who’s an outsider.

Of course, with the British accent I suppose that doesn’t matter so much; they’d tell no matter what that you’re not from around there.

I love my library job.  It’s easy and I can get my homework done.  I might do library work after college, unless I marry some rich guy and don’t need to work.  Then I’d just write.

I wanted to find library work, but never could find anything close by for library clerks.  Junior year seemed too late to take on a double major, Writing and Library Science, and become a librarian, so I would have to be a library clerk, if anything.  And well, Roanoke didn’t offer Library Science, anyway.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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…Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE! STOP THE VIOLENCE!

Upstate Woman Charged for Slapping Wrong Child at School

Called to Fairforest Middle School to pick up her son who had been suspended, Tyshekka Collier walked into the school’s and proceeded to slap a child who was face down sick on a couch and waiting for his own mother to pick him up.

Realizing her mistake, Collier quickly apologized to the child, then found her own son and proceeded to slap him with both hands on his face and head, according to an arrest warrant.

The sick child’s mother suggested in the TV report that perhaps Ms. Collier deserved a good slapping, too.

Collier wasn’t slapped, but she was arrested and charged with a count of third-degree assault and battery and disturbing a school.

 

Help prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Never shake a baby. Also, do not slap or hit a child of any age on the face or head. A child’s brain is very delicate. Shaking, slapping, or hitting a child can cause serious harm, even though it may not leave any obvious sign of injury. –Healthwise staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome: Home Treatment

Also see Don’t smack your kids: Research into teenage football concussions, Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE, and Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury.

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How my narcissists craved attention

Note 2016: This post was originally my impressions of a site which described the narcissist need for attention.  I no longer endorse that site in any way and do not want to drive traffic to it, so instead I give you just my impressions.

First the site spoke of the following traits:

There was Richard’s name-dropping.  And it seemed like no matter who it was, or what it was, he had done it, or knew them, and had amazing stories to tell.  He had inside information on everything.  It made you wonder, is it really possible for one person of only 34 years old to have done so much and known so many people?

Then a comment that you can idolize a narcissist.  And that if a normally sweet, easy-going person hates one particular person’s guts, you have to take note that there may be good reason:

I used to idolize Richard, until his mask began slipping now and then.  And I never did like Tracy, felt forced to be friends with her because she had to approve Richard’s friends.  Now I hate her because of all the crap she put me through.

And I’m beginning to feel the same way about Richard as it becomes ever more confirmed in my own mind that he is indeed a narc, putting pride above friendship, and being every bit as ego-driven as he used to try to tell me he was.

Then there was the narcissist’s tendency to be easily offended, and to do what they can to annoy you more after you ask them to stop doing something:

They got extremely offended (to the point of no longer wanting to go to my church) because other parishioners suggested they take their kids to the play area downstairs when they got too loud.  And Richard told me once that he would encourage the youngest one, who was about 1 or 2, to make more noise if people got annoyed.

Over the many years I’ve gone to church, most of the time, when kids are noisy, their parents try to quiet them, or take them out of the sanctuary until they calm down: They are too embarrassed and considerate of others to wish to encourage the child’s noise.  So you can, in turn, be empathetic of the parents.

This was the first time I ever encountered someone in church with the attitude of, My kids are noisy, and if you don’t like it, you can suck it.

This same attitude has played out with these narcs, when they discovered I did not want them around, forcing themselves on my attention; when they discovered I did not want them on my blog, reading it all the time; when told not to contact me, sending me a threat- and taunt-laden e-mail.

Then there were comments about smear campaigns for imagined slights, craving attention, playing the victim, and sending flying monkeys:

This, Tracy’s tendency to smear people for imagined slights (not just me), and their threat to sue also matches a symptom of craving attention.

As for playing the victim and gathering flying monkeys: This applies to Tracy gathering flying monkeys to attack Todd on an Internet game for an imagined slight, and Richard telling me horrible things about Todd as well….

And to them finding a flying monkey to spy on my Facebook and, apparently, attack me through that monkey’s Facebook profile, which passive-aggressively and indirectly attacked me, this from a girl who did not even know me….

And to them trying to turn my own priest against me as well.

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A Mass of Judgments in “Glorious Appearing”: Left Behind Review–part 3

Previous parts

This book has a mass of judgments.  On page 363 we read,

But the Tribulation was also a time of judgment of unbelieving Gentiles.  That should have been obvious from the twenty-one judgments that came from heaven during the past seven years.

But that’s not all:

In [the Valley of Jehoshaphat] it appears the Lord will conduct three judgments: He will restore the Jewish nation; He will judge the sheep; and He will judge the goats.

This judgment is coming soon.  But that’s not all: On page 365, we read that the goats get judged twice: once in this coming judgment, then again at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of time.

For now they will be sent to hades, apparently a compartment of hell, where they will suffer until that final judgment, and then they will be cast into the lake of fire.

If only the authors took Orthodox theology more seriously, they would not have ended up with this convoluted interpretation with so many judgments.

No, there are two judgments: one at death, when you go to Hades or Paradise, which are not compartments of Hell, because nobody goes to Hell or Heaven until after the Resurrection.

And they are also not physical, literal places, but metaphors for the state of the soul:

I’m trying to get the bulk of my information here from official, Orthodox Church-run sites, and avoid using “River of Fire” by Alexandre Kalomiros as a resource, because many charge that he was anti-West and part of a schismatic, non-Orthodox group.  Nevertheless, I find many of his claims to be echoed on official Orthodox Church websites, such as the one for the Orthodox Church of America.

In fact, I checked with the Very Reverend John Matusiak, who answers questions in the Q&A section of the OCA website, and he said that yes indeed, the Orthodox idea of Hell is of a place which is beyond time and space, not physical but in God’s presence, with metaphorical fire.

He says that apparent differences between websites and other sources are really just different ways of explaining the same truth.  Also, there are many websites, especially those which are not official Church websites, which have incorrect information and theological opinion which does not match Church teachings.

However, I cannot just discount “River of Fire.”  It is controversial, yes, especially because of the polemics against the West.  It’s also accused of bad theology.  However, it also has fervent backers among the canonical Orthodox, including priests, monks and archimandrites.  Some find it too harsh against the West; some find it to be full of beauty and light, bringing them ever closer to God.

It was the first Orthodox book or article to start me down the path of investigating Orthodoxy’s claims.  After I first read through it late one night, I felt as if I truly loved God for the first time ever–before was just infatuation.  Not only did it discuss Hell, but the nature of God and the atonement.

A good friend, who was recommended the book by an archimandrite (unmarried priest or head of a monastery), requested me to put “River of Fire” back on my site.

He says that whether something comes from an Old Calendrist (very conservative Orthodox, no longer in communion with the official Orthodox churches), or from a New Calendrist (official Orthodox), makes no difference: You can tell if it’s of God.  So here is “River of Fire” by Alexandre Kalomiros.

My research is pulling up an Orthodox vision of Hell which contrasts sharply with the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards.

In essence, this “Hell” is not necessarily a physical place.  Many say it is within the heart.  God will not separate anyone from him; he will bathe every single soul with love.  But this is not “universalism”: Even in God’s presence, some will resist his love, while others bask in it.

For those who accept the consuming fires of his love, which burn away all impurities, this love will be bliss.  For those who resist them, this love will be Hell.

Is it eternal, or never-ending?  Some Church Fathers disagree, but there seems to be a consensus that it will never end, that after the Resurrection when all souls are given eternal bodies, that eternal nature means we can no longer change or repent.

The Fathers who disagree say it’s possible for the soul in Hell to repent; it’s also possible to never repent, but become so full of despair that you enter an existential void from which you never escape.  (A friend’s priest told him that the meaning of “eternal” has never officially been fixed.)  So whether you’re dealing with physical flames or metaphorical flames, Hell still should be avoided.

Also, demons will not torture the condemned, because they and Satan will also be condemned–their own fault.  God is not raging at them; he loves them and wishes they had chosen another route.  But they could not be allowed to continue in wickedness.

St. John Damascene wrote in Book IV Chapter XXVII of An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith:

Again the divine apostle says, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

And again: It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power: it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory: it is sown a natural body (that is to say, crass and mortal), it is raised a spiritual body, such as was our Lord’s body after the resurrection which passed through closed doors, was unwearying, had no need of food, or sleep, or drink.

For they will be, saith the Lord, as the angels of God: there will no longer be marriage nor procreation of children.

The divine apostle, in truth, says, For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus, Who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body: not meaning change into another form (God forbid!), but rather the change from corruption into incorruption….

We shall therefore rise again, our souls being once more united with our bodies, now made incorruptible and having put off corruption, and we shall stand beside the awful judgment-seat of Christ:

and the devil and his demons and the man that is his, that is the Antichrist and the impious and the sinful, will be given over to everlasting fire: not material fire like our fire, but such fire as God would know.

But those who have done good will shine forth as the sun with the angels into life eternal, with our Lord Jesus Christ, ever seeing Him and being in His sight and deriving unceasing joy from Him, praising Him with the Father and the Holy Spirit throughout the limitless ages of ages. Amen.

As is written on the website for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

The resurrection of the dead is a miracle that will happen at the second coming of the Lord. According to the Creed: “I await the resurrection of the dead.”

This resurrection will be a new creation. However, our physical bodies as we know them now will be restored, in a spiritualized existence like that of the Lord after His Resurrection.

The final judgment will follow the resurrection of all. Some will rise to the resurrection of life, and some to the resurrection of judgment and condemnation. Christ will be our Judge on the basis of our deeds, our works of love or our acts of wickedness.

The end-time will follow, with a permanent separation between good and evil, between those who will be awarded eternal life of happiness and bliss in heaven, and those who will be condemned to the fire of eternal damnation, to the eternal remorse of their conscience for having rejected God and authentic life in Him and having joined the inauthentic life invented by the devil and his servants.

A new heaven and new earth will be established, inhabited by righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). The Kingdom of God will be fully established; the Church will cease to exist. Finally, the Son of God will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, “that God may be everything to everyone” (1 Cor. 15:28).

 

Spirits first go to Hades, or Sheol; this is also where Christ went between his death and resurrection.  He set free the captives there, the Harrowing of Hades (also known as the Harrowing of Hell).  (Though some say this is a misreading of 1 Peter 3:18-19, my research shows that this is how the Early Church understood it.  The Orthodox Church still understands it this way.  See The Communion of Saints by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr. and Christ the Conqueror of Hell by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev.)

Some theologians of different denominations say that the blessed dead go to Paradise (not Heaven, but a holding tank for the righteous) and the wicked dead go to Hades (not Hell, but a holding tank for the condemned).  Some say that before Christ, there was no Paradise, only Hades; some say that before Christ, there was Paradise and Hades.

At the Resurrection and Judgment, we will go to either Heaven or Hell, which are eternal and unchanging, unlike Hades.  An Orthodox catechism put out by the Russian Orthodox Church says that the spirits of sinners in Hades could potentially be saved–until the Resurrection and Judgment.  After the Judgment, there is no more salvation.   (It’s hard to tell if this is official church doctrine or just one school of thought.)

During a Lenten or Holy Week sermon, possibly on Holy Friday, in I believe 2011 or 2012, my priest spoke of the time of Christ speaking to the spirits in Hades as ever-present.

My priest often speaks of events in the past being ever-present: When the Divine Liturgy and Eucharist are celebrated, he says, it does not just represent Christ’s crucifixion, but we are actually there at the crucifixion.  When during Holy Week we go through the services, and especially on Holy Thursday as Christ suffered his Passion, we are there with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane; when we don’t attend services, we desert him.  The preaching in Hades follows the same concept.

It is a difficult concept to understand, but fits with the mystical heritage of Orthodox theology.  My priest said that our relatives, when they die, will all go to that point when Christ spoke to the spirits in Hades.  Basically, this means everyone gets the chance to accept or reject Christ: neither universalism nor unfair.  The following passage by Bishop Hilarion might clarify:

Has this anything to do with those who died outside Christian faith after the descent of Christ into Hades?

No, if we accept the Western teaching that the descent into Hades was a ‘one-time’ event and that the recollection of Christ did not survive in hell.

Yes, if we proceed from the assumption that after Christ hell was no longer like the Old Testament sheol, but it became a place of the divine presence.

In addition, as Archpriest Serge Bulgakov writes, ‘all events in the life of Christ, which happen in time, have timeless, abiding significance.

Therefore, the so-called ‘preaching in hell’, which is the faith of the Church, is a revelation of Christ to those who in their earthly life could not see or know Christ. There are no grounds for limiting this event … to the Old Testament saints alone, as Catholic theology does.

Rather, the power of this preaching should be extended to all time for those who during their life on earth did not and could not know Christ but meet Him in the afterlife[73].

According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, all the dead, whether believers or non-believers, appear before God. Therefore, even for those who did not believe during their lifetime, there is hope that they will recognize God as their Saviour and Redeemer if their previous life on earth led them to this recognition.

…Is it possible at all that the fate of a person can be changed after his death? Is death that border beyond which some unchangeable static existence comes? Does the development of the human person not stop after death?

On the one hand, it is impossible for one to actively repent in hell; it is impossible to rectify the evil deeds one committed by appropriate good works. However, it may be possible for one to repent through a ‘change of heart’, a review of one’s values.

One of the testimonies to this is the rich man of the Gospel we have already mentioned. He realized the gravity of his situation as soon as found himself in hell. Indeed, if in his lifetime he was focused on earthly pursuits and forgot God, once in hell he realized that his only hope for salvation was God[76] .

Besides, according to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, the fate of a person after death can be changed through the prayer of the Church. Thus, existence after death has its own dynamics.

On the basis of what has been said above, we may say that after death the development of the human person does not cease, for existence after death is not a transfer from a dynamic into a static being, but rather continuation on a new level of that road which a person followed in his lifetime. —Christ the Conqueror of Hell

In On the Soul and the Resurrection, St. Gregory of Nyssa argued that, since spirits were in Hades without their bodies, it could not be a physical place, the gulf separating the blessed and the wicked could not have been physical, and the fires torturing the wicked could not have been physical.  I’m not sure what he said about after the Resurrection.

St. John Damascene, as we have just seen, also said that the fires after the Resurrection of mankind are not material.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to agree with the Russian Orthodox Church that change is possible after death until the Resurrection, though I’m not sure if they’re referring just to the saved or to everyone:

A partial judgment is instituted immediately after our physical death, which places us in an intermediate condition of partial blessedness (for the righteous), or partial suffering (for the unrighteous).

Disavowing a belief in the Western “Purgatory,” our Church believes that a change is possible during this intermediate state and stage.  The Church, militant and triumphant, is still one, which means that we can still influence one another with our prayers and our saintly (or ungodly) life.

This is the reason why we pray for our dead. Also, almsgiving on behalf of the dead may be of some help to them, without implying, of course, that those who provide the alms are in some fashion “buying” anybody’s salvation. —“Orthodox Eschatology” section, The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church by His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh

According to the Orthodox Church in America, at the end of the ages the Earth will be renewed and we, in our resurrected bodies, will all live here in God’s presence and love.  For those who love God, it will be bliss (Heaven); for those who hate God, it will be torment (Hell): Eternal Life, from Vol. 1 of the Rainbow Series

Heaven and Hell from Vol. 4 of the Rainbow Series

So when you hear people say, “This Earth is not my home,” they are wrong: It is our eternal home, though then it will be in a perfect condition.

On another page, we see that this inner Hell is worse than the Dante-ish external Hell, so it still must be avoided.  This is also proclaimed to be the teaching of the Church Fathers: Judgment from Vol. 1 of the Rainbow Series

In a book commonly used to introduce people to the Orthodox faith, The Orthodox Church, Bishop Kallistos Ware writes that God does not imprison man: Man imprisons himself.  Man experiences God’s love as suffering because of his own free will.

…Yet, though Hell is viewed as eternal, several Church Fathers have believed in universalism, or that all will be saved.

…It is perfectly all right to hope that universalism is correct (even though it is not church doctrine), and we must pray for the salvation of all.  St. Gregory of Nyssa even said we could hope for the salvation of Satan. —Excerpts from The Orthodox Church

Check out how Wikipedia describes the Eastern Orthodox view of Hell, and what it says (in the “Judaism” section) Jews considered Gehenna to be.  Though the “Images of Hell” section under Eastern Orthodoxy, contradicts the claim that Orthodoxy does NOT believe in a material Hell.  ARGH!

The Orthodox also reject the Catholic view of Purgatory.  Some, Orthodox and Catholic, have argued that the Orthodox view of metaphorical purifying fires is the same as Purgatory.  However, these purifying fires lead to bliss, not pain, and they are eternally part of Heaven, not a temporary place of punishment.  Since these views are not officially from the Orthodox Church, they could be inaccurate.  For these views, see: The Orthodox Response to the Latin Doctrine of Purgatory

Here, Wikipedia quotes from the Greek Orthodox website, contradicting both the earlier quote from the same website that change after death is possible, and the Russian Orthodox catechism, saying that the Orthodox Church has always taught it’s not possible to repent after death.

So you see why it’s so frickin’ hard for inquirers to figure out what exactly the Orthodox Church believes.

Here is an online catechism from the Russian Orthodox church, which includes an explanation of Hell and Christ’s visit to Hades/Hell.  See Death & Resurrection, which says there’s a possibility of the soul being released from Hell before the final Judgment.  See The Last Judgment, which talks about what happens to non-Christians.  See What is Hell and A New Heaven & a New Earth.

Check this out:

In a remarkable instance of freedom from biblical literalism, St. Isaac the Syrian, arguably the greatest mystic in the tradition of Eastern Christianity, intentionally demythologizes the image of hellfire.

Although he by no means rejects the reality of hell, he reinterprets it as a separation from and inability to participate in God’s eternal love, a separation more painful according to him than any physical hell.

For St. Isaac, hell did not exist prior to sin and its ultimate end is unknown. Hell is not a place of punishment created by God, but a spiritual mode of anguished suffering created by sinful creatures willfully separated from God.

According to Isaac, sinners in this hell are not deprived of the love of God; only they suffer in the profound realization of having offended against love and of being unable to participate in it.

Hell is none other than this bitter awareness of separation and regret, what St. Isaac calls the ‘scourge of love.’ Thus, the same divine love radiating towards all is bliss to the righteous but torment to sinners.

Certainly the patristic tradition, known for its spiritual exegesis, cannot be charged with slavish literalism to an absolute holy word. In the end, as H. Chadwick has observed, the Church fathers knew that Christianity is not a religion of a book but of a Person. —The New Testament, An Orthodox Perspective–Theodore G. Stylianopoulos

Here’s another quote from an Orthodox Catechism by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto:

Let us be careful here. All that the Holy Scriptures say regarding hell should not be understood physically, as we know these things today.

We should always keep in mind that with the Second Coming of Christ and the final judgement everything will change. Everything will become ‘new.’ The whole universe.

The Fathers of the Church explain this very well, particularly, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who writes the following:

‘Because you learned to understand something different from what exists in reality, when you hear the words fire or worm, you should not think of the earthly fire or insect.’

In other words, when you hear of fire and worms do not understand it as the fire and worms that you know of here.

St. John Damascene also writes the following: ‘eternal fire is not a material thing such as we are familiar with; rather it is something that only God comprehends.’ In other words, the fire of hell is not physical as we know it, but will be fire as God knows it. —Eternal-life-and-eternal-hell

Also see Eschatology and Purgatory by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr.

Here is the view of the Orthodox Church of America:

Judgment

Eternal Life

Heaven and Hell

The Kingdom of Heaven

Also see:

The Uncreated Energies: The Light and Fire of God by Peter Chopelas  (also here)

Apocatastasis: The Heresy That Never Was on Eclectic Orthodoxy, argues that universalism was never actually condemned by the Church, but that this is a misinterpretation passed down as fact for hundreds of years.

This is a testimony of a convert from the Baptist to the Orthodox church.  I see some similarities with him: disenchantment with evangelical Christianity, a discovery that Hell is not fire-and-brimstone but an inner reaction to God’s love, a discovery that relying on individual interpretations of the Bible (as opposed to examining doctrines of our forefathers) can be a trap.  (I’ve read that even Luther did not mean “scripture alone” as “ignore tradition.”) : From First Baptist to the First Century by Clark Carlton

What does my priest say about “River of Fire”?  He found it very hard to get through, with too many negatives about other faiths and not enough positives about the Orthodox faith.

But he said that Hell is not physical or material as we are: Everything will be transformed at the Resurrection, no longer material as we know it now.  Pictures of Hell are made material so we understand the devastation of it.  We can burn inside without being materially affected.

An interesting aside on Isaiah 66:24, which is about the continual burning of the bodies of the wicked, and the righteous looking upon them, after all wickedness is finally defeated:

The Talmudists (t) observe from hence, that the wicked, even at the gate of hell, return not by repentance; for it is not said, that “have transgressed”, but “that transgress”;

for they transgress, and go on for ever; and so indeed the word may be rendered, “that transgress”, or “are transgressing” (u); for they interpret it of the damned in hell, as many do; and of whom the following clauses may be understood:

for their worm shall not die; with which their carcasses shall be covered, they lying rotting above ground; or figuratively their consciences, and the horrors and terrors that shall seize them, which they will never get rid of. The Targum is,

“their souls shall not die;”

as they will not, though their bodies may; but will remain to suffer the wrath of God to all eternity: neither shall their fire be quenched; in hell, as Jarchi interprets it;

those wicked men, the followers and worshippers of antichrist, will be cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone; they will for ever suffer the vengeance of eternal fire; and the smoke of their torment shall ascend for ever and ever, Revelation 14:10,

and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh; the true worshippers of God, Isaiah 66:23 to whom their carcasses will be loathsome, when they look upon them; and their souls abominable, because of their wicked actions;

and who cannot but applaud the justice of God in their condemnation; and admire distinguishing grace and mercy, that has preserved them from the like ruin and destruction. The Targum is,

“and the ungodly shall be judged in hell, till the righteous shall say concerning them, we have seen enough;” —Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

From what I understand, the Targum was an oral explanation of the Torah given by rabbis in ancient times, to help the people understand the Torah better.  So–according to the Targum, the punishment goes on because the wicked never stop sinning, yet this eternal punishment only lasts until the righteous ask for it to end?

At the end of Glorious Appearing is a little section ironically named “The Truth Behind the Fiction.”  I don’t think the authors intended that to be funny, but it is anyway.   🙂

First, this section refers to the book Glorious Appearing as “that dramatic story.”  Er…What?  Dramatic?  I thought it was quite the snoozefest, actually, with very little actually happening. 

Then the authors tell us that newspapers have a headline type called “Second Coming type,” used for cataclysms and the like. But why call it this?

The reason, of course, is that there is no bigger event than the second coming of Christ, and even the most irreligious journalist at the most liberal newspaper in the most ungodly city in the world knows it.

Isn’t that rather judgmental?  Note that it’s a liberal newspaper equated with irreligious journalist and ungodly city; what, can’t a liberal Democrat be religious and godly?  (Even Billy Graham is a Democrat.  And, from what I see in local letters to the editor from Sisters, many nuns must be Democrats as well.)

Here is an Orthodox critique of premillennial dispensationalism, which is the doctrine of a Rapture, Tribulation, Armageddon, Second Coming, then 1000 years of a literal reign of Christ on Earth.

As I understand it, Orthodoxy is amillennialist: The thousand-year reign is not literal, but symbolic, the “church age,” and we’re in it now.  No Rapture, which is not biblical, but the Second Coming at the end of time, then the Judgment, and the renewed heavens and earth.  There is only one physical resurrection, at the Judgment.

Here, Elder Cleopas explains Revelation in detail.

On page 403, the authors write,

The Glorious Appearing will end the time of Satan’s deception of mankind and will usher in Christ’s kingdom of peace on earth.  It is the very cornerstone of Bible prophecy and is one of the most loved and believed doctrines in the Bible, accepted by almost every denomination that still considers itself Christian.

What, are there Christian denominations that don’t consider themselves Christian?  (Universalist Unitarians aren’t Christians, since members can follow any beliefs or religions they like.  But even the most liberal Christian denominations still call themselves Christians.)

The part about “peace on earth” sounds like he’s referring to premillennialism, so what about the amillennialists, which are a huge swath of churches that do indeed call themselves Christians–and conservative Christians, at that?

So is it not Christian if it’s amillennialist?  Or is he referring to the doctrine of the Second Coming, rather than the kingdom on earth? It’s unclear.

You’d think this was it, but no, there are four more books to come: the prequels!  le sigh 

[12/3/12-1/23/13]

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