Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


UN Fiddles While Darfur Burns

People in Darfur had hoped that once it became clear the attacks against civilians had not stopped, the UN would impose sanctions or other punitive measures against Sudan. But instead, the UN Security Council effectively gave the government more time, saying unless the killing stops, the UN "shall consider taking additional measures ... such as actions to affect Sudan's petroleum sector."


Inside Darfur, people have no doubt that they are victims of an organised attempt to destroy them. They claim the Sudanese government has continued to support the Janjaweed, even while it promised the international community that it was trying its hardest to rein them in. Abdel Molah, said: "A few days before the Janjaweed and helicopters came to attack my village, some people came to us and said - we will send you blacks away and take this land. There are many riches in the earth and we shall make it ours." Molah's parents and five brothers were killed in two separate Janjaweed attacks in April and August. He has now fled to Chad with his wife and three children, and insists he will not return unless the government changes. "This government does not want blacks in Darfur, only Arabs," he insisted. "As long as they are in charge, we cannot be safe." Others barely understand the politics that are destroying their lives.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and the World Health Organisation has estimated that at least 10,000 people are still dying in Darfur each month as a result of violence and disease.

The families of the bereaved do not care what wording the UN uses against Sudan, as long as the killings stop. Mariam Ayacoub's four sons were shot by the Janjaweed as they slept inside the family's compound in August. Still mad with grief, she looks blank when asked about the UN. "I don't know who they are," she said, rocking back and forth. "My children are dead. I don't know anything else. Maybe God knows. I don't."

Rest of article: UN shies away from action to stop massacres in Darfur

The UN's action- or lack thereof- in this latest crisis is deplorable- disgusting. How much venomous speech have we heard condemning the "evil American imperialist invasion" of Iraq? And yet the same people insist on careful wording in any discussion of the Darfur crisis, lest we offend the noble Sudanese Arab regime I guess. Bush is evil incarnate; the Sudanese government is, at worst, a bit misguided and somewhat lax in their internal security and policing. We can certainly afford to wait a few months- what's another ten thousand? Sickening.

O Lord have mercy.

The Hurricane

As anyone who watches the Weather Channel would know, our lovely Gulf Coast was pounded by the late Hurricane Ivan last week. Ellisville was spared any damage beyond a few felled trees, some blown over business signs, and lots of limbs and leaves in yards. Our church operated a Red Cross shelter for evacuees; I volunteered the night of the hurricane's landfall. We had relatively little excitement other than a loss of electricity in the early morning hours; I understand someone tried to break into the cars in the parking lot, but I was asleep at the time. The police maintained a good presence throughout the county, and quickly apprended our would-be theif.

I understand there was a total of nearly one hundred people in our shelter- some of whom were from this area (trailer home residents worried over the forecast- but non-materializing- hundred mile an hour winds), but most were from the Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida coasts. The latter two areas were hit pretty hard; fortunately, Mississippi escaped the brunt of the damage.

My absence of late has nothing to do with the hurricane, by the way: my home computer internet connection has been down since Tuesday, and classes were canceled Thursday and Friday. I'm hoping to get the durn thing back working this week, now that all the hurricane excitement has died down. Oh, and speaking of hurricane excitement, if you are in need of batteries, bread, or bottled water, the citizens of Jones County have them in overabundance in their pantries and basements...


Serb Schools Told to Drop Darwin

"Serbia's education minister has ordered schools to stop teaching the theory of evolution for the current school year, a leading newspaper has reported."

Interesting- particularly considering Serbia was under Communist rule not that terribly long ago.

I wonder- how widespread is disapproval of Darwinian evolution in Orthodoxy? I am familiar with the late Ft. Seraphim Rose's beliefs on the matter, but have otherwise been under the impression that evolution is more or less accepted by much of the modern Orthodox Church.

On a quite unrelated note, but still in Serbia, here is an interesting defense of icon veneration- interesting because the author is an Evangelical.


Know Thyself

The Desert Fathers had a favorite maxim: to know oneself truly was a greater work than raising the dead or achieving other great miracles. Of course, they did not envision the "searching for yourself" pursuits of the modern; nor did they suppose that we would chance upon the "divine within." Rather, this sort of knowing oneself is an uncomfortable confrontation with the worst of sinners: me, the old Adam within.

Self-knowledge, the knowledge of one's sin, is the path to repentance. I must know myself to be a sinner, a real sinner and not merely one in theory. I am willing enough to acknowledge a sort of passive sinfulness- but directly confronting real sins is much harder. Most often I try to mentally wear down any sin I might have commited, parsing at it until I have convinced myself that I was, at worst, only in error, an innocent mistake. After all, most of my sins are "small," I tell myself: I am not living in apostasy, I am not getting drunk on the weekends with my peers, I try to say nice things to people, and so on. And what's more, I read the Scriptures every day, study the Fathers, and even have a prayer rule! Granted, I sometimes don't get around to reading until late at night, and my prayer rule is rather short, and I usually shorten it further, but still: I'll bet I'm doing better than most people. I even sometimes talk about God to people: sure, it's mostly to show off my piety and learning, but it's something, I'm sure.

Which is all rot, of course. My self-righteousness only serves as a means of deluding myself, which is very helpful to maintaining my comfortable lifestyle (and hence back to self-love). My external "niceness" lends itself to projecting a very good image of myself to others. I enjoy hearing complements. It makes me feel good. Why do people complement me? Because they do not see my inner life. They do not see my hidden sins, the "small sins" that I commit and then parse away from my conscience.

The alternative to this is self-knowledge. "Do not think more highly of yourself than you should" said the Apostle (to paraphrase). I must understand and know my condition, in its ugly particulars, and then repent of it: confessing the things I have done, and acknowledging them as my own. Then I may recognize my need for a real Saviour, and embrace Him Who has power to both forgive me and empower me against sin.