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Final Web December 2015 Web

December 2015

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY

ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY AND THE GREAT DARKNESS The staff had all exited homeward, into the early winter darkness and the flurrying snow. We sat, the office to ourselves, bone weary after another grueling day. We gazed, unfocused, out the window, into the drifting flakes and into the blackness. Disarmed, I think, by the fatigue and by our long friendship, and by the sense of isolation the falling snow seemed to offer, her characteristic cheerfulness wavered; and she began speaking unselfconsciously about her troubles. After a minute or two, though, as if catching herself with a hand in a cookie jar, she said with a quick embarrassment; “I’m sorry to go on like this, really….You know, I’m happy most of the time.” “Oh, Clara, I’m sorry about that.” “Sorry? About happiness? Why?” I worry about people of an uninspected happiness and an innate optimism; and of people who flee from sadness, or grief, or melancholy. I worry that they’re likely to miss what’s important—what’s saving. I fear for those who twist funerals into “a celebration of the life of …”; who even in the face of this most bald confrontation with horror, with corruption and death, refuse to meet that reality; who attempt to sugar-glaze it. I wonder about the religion of those for whom the paradox of horror and bliss is not stark and preoccupying, for whom this paradox remains unrecognized or uninspected or unacknowledged. This paradox is the primal problem of man. All his other problems are faces of it. A religion that does not address this first, last, and middle, is no religion at all. The attentive and unbiased person, (likewise, the Christian who’s educated in his Faith) will comprehend the human condition, this Fallen life, as a mixture of Divine Light and demonic darkness—of unspeakable bliss and inconceivable horror. Most of the time, to most of us, the life in our field of view is not starkly recognizable as such because the Light and the darkness are so much mixed together. But occasionally we have an experience that’s almost purely of Light or of darkness. I think of a newborn at the breast, regarding his mother’s eyes. I think of the screaming man Uday Hussein’s thugs fed feet first into a wood chipper. But we all have some experience, however attenuated, of the vast horror. And we are, at some level, ever aware of our vulnerability to the darkness. And our reflexive response to this is to wrap ourselves in emotional, psychological insulation; to shield ourselves from direct experience of it. And though this insulation dulls our pain, it also insulates us from direct experience of any sort. In the course of the years, most of us wrap ourselves in so many layers of deadening that we’re just nominally alive, more dead than alive. And our failures of honesty, our failures of integrity, our cowardices, our culturing of our passions—our acquisitiveness and our angers and our lusts and resentments and idle talk; in short, our sins—these add further layers of deadening, of separation, between us and living contact with the creation and with our Creator. The religious life, then, is a call to cognizance. It is a call to attention to the truth of our situation. And of the immediacy of our choice, at each turn, to culture in our souls and in the creation, either the one or the other—bliss or horror; good or evil; the feeding of the passions or their dismantling; a closer walk with God, or the rejection of Him. This is the daily task of purification; of unwrapping from about us the insensate layers that separate our living center from direct knowledge, from sanctification, from deification. For those living in the myopia of the mundane, preoccupied and satisfied with the superficial, there exists the grave danger that the need of salvation may go unrecognized; and the chance may slip away. But those uneasy souls who sense the darkness and its proximity, who are driven relentlessly by their pain to the search and to introspection, if they find grace and right understanding and requisite strength, may one day consider their grief as their great and saving boon; and for it they will shed many tears of gratitude. Thus it was that I left the Western church. When I started my slide away from it, I could not articulate my disaffection. I knew that something essential was missing, or at least underrepresented. I sensed that a betrayal, a dumbing-down, an accommodation with the Spirit of the Time, had enfeebled it. It was only when I encountered the ancient Christianity, the undefiled Faith, the all-comprehending gaze, that the unobstructed deep path was revealed to me. All chapters copyright © 2015 by author Nick Martone, c/o St. George’s Church P.O. Box 38, Edenton, NC. Inquiries to: St. George’s Orthodox Church, Edenton, NC. Telephone 482-2006 8 Albemarle Tradewinds December 2015 albemarletradewinds.com

Concealed Carry Law in NC Continued At least one presidential candidate recently implied that the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms could be more or less easily circumvented by individual states acting pursuant to the authority of the Tenth Amendment, which says that powers not specifically granted to the Federal government are reserved to the States. Someone who deems himself fit for the presidency should know better than to promote such a ridiculously false idea, but it does show the need for better education on our founding document in general, and the Second Amendment in particular. The problem arises from confusing the list of powers granted to government with the reservation of rights against that government. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, set forth individual rights, which constitute limits on government. Of those, only the First Amendment (freedom of speech, worship, etc) is limited by its language in its application specifically to Congress. (Later court decisions applied that right to the states as well, but I am referring only to the original language of the Constitution). The rest of the amendments contain no such restriction, and protect the basic rights of American citizens from all levels of government. As such, the Second Amendment applies to the states and their localities. This is not to say that the right to bear arms, or any right, is absolute. The Supreme Court has long recognized that the government may impose reasonable restrictions on rights to prevent anarchy. Everyone is familiar with Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s quote that the right to free speech does not give you the right to falsely shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater because of the panic and injuries that would ensue. Similarly, regarding the Second Amendment, government may reasonably prohibit citizens from having machine guns or hand grenades, and violent felons from owning firearms. But, because basic, fundamental rights are involved, any attempt to limit or restrict them must pass the most stringent of all judicial tests. Historically, the Supreme Court has used the three-part “strict scrutiny” test when evaluating whether an attempt to regulate a basic right is constitutional. The regulation must be in furtherance of a “compelling” interest. It must be narrowly tailored to achieve a specific, acceptable governmental goal or interest. Finally, it must be the absolutely least restrictive method of reaching that goal. As the name of the test implies, the Court very strictly construes these cases against the government when deciding these cases, as it should. It should never be easy to trample upon the fundamentals of what it means to be an American. A state may indeed legally restrict rights under the Second Amendment, but it is not easy, and it has nothing to do with the Tenth Amendment. Finding Senior Housing can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. (800) 782-9012 t Confused about your Medicare Options? Paying too much for your current Supplemental Medicare plan? Save up to 65% by comparing TOP carriers in your area! Call Now! Get a FREE no obligation review of your Medicare options. CALL US! WE CAN HELP 800-958-0834 LEARN about the plans, COMPARE the different types of plans, and SAVE on the plan you choice! Speak with a licensed adviser today! Compare every plan in your area with the lowest rates! Compare top carriers costs and Compare your plan to current market rates! Friendly service, hassle free & no obligation to sign up! This is a solicitation for insurance. Not a branch of Medicare or any other government agency. MedicareFAQ (Elite Insurance Partners) helps individuals understand all Medicare options, including original Medicare Parts A or B or any of the other Supplemental Medicare plans like; Medicare Supplements (Medigap), Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Prescription Drugs (Part D). We are located in downtown Elizabeth City. Our mission is to make using tobacco a thing of the past! Come by The Vapor Station every Saturday to receive 10% off Seduce Juice when you mention this ad. facebook.com/AlbemarleTradingPost Albemarle Tradewinds December 2015 9