After my death our beloved Church abroad will break three ways ... first the Greeks will leave us as they were never a part of us ... then those who live for this world and its glory will go to Moscow ... what will remain will be those souls faithful to Christ and His Church. ~St. Philaret of NY


Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin

article from The New York Times 

There is no God, no hell.  The greatest sin is to fail to be a Social Justice Warrior

By Julia Scheeres
Jan. 25, 2019

We were standing in line for meat pies at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The indoor arena south of San Francisco had been transformed into Victorian London; actors wearing top hats and crinolines roamed about wishing fairgoers “Happy Christmas.” As we contemplated the menu — haggis or shepherd’s pie? — a noisy band of temperance advocates marched by hoisting signs that stated, “Gin is Sin!”

As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she looked up at me with solemn hazel eyes.

“Mama, what is sin?” she asked.

The merriment of the fair receded and I stared at her, my brain spinning with the magnitude of her question. By failing to teach my child the meaning of the word sin, had I somehow failed to give her a moral foundation?

Sin. That tiny word still makes me cringe with residual fear. Fear of being judged unworthy. Fear of the eternal torture of hell. Fear of my father’s belt.

The notion of sin dominated my girlhood. Raised in Indiana by fundamentalist parents, sin was the inflexible yardstick by which I was measured. Actions, words, even thoughts weren’t safe from scrutiny. The list of sinful offenses seemed infinite: listening to secular music or watching secular television, saying “gosh” or “darn” or “jeez,” questioning authorities, envying a friend’s rainbow array of Izod shirts. God was a megaphone bleating in my head: “You’re bad, you’re bad, you’re bad!” I had recurring nightmares of malevolent winds tornado-ing through my bedroom — a metaphor, I now realize, for an invisible and vindictive god.

I had little contact with people outside of the rigid triangle of my Calvinist home, church and school. Weekends were busy with “Calvinette” activities, and later, “Young Calvinists.” I feared non-Christians in general and atheists in particular. Because unbelievers didn’t have the stick of eternal damnation hanging over their heads, they had no reason to act morally, and were therefore, I believed, capable of utter depravity.

But then, as a teenager, I started attending a public school and my black-and-white worldview started gaining color and nuance. I became good friends with a Jewish girl, surreptitiously listened to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40,” and hid copies of Glamour magazine under my mattress as if they were pornography. I stopped fearing the secular world and grew intrigued by it. And paid the price: At 17, after being caught “fornicating” with my high school boyfriend, I was sent to a Christian reform school where children were beaten in the name of God. It was there that I learned that religion has nothing to do with goodness and there’s a strong link between zealotry and hypocrisy.

I lost my faith by fits and starts. The absolute truths of my girlhood crumbled when I watched Carl Sagan’s 13-part “Cosmos” series in graduate school — a program that included an overview of evolution which made it verboten for me as a kid, but whose logic made irrefutable sense to me as an adult.

But still. Religious brainwashing imposed from infancy is hard to shake, and I continued to confuse “Christian” with “trustworthy” and “moral.” When my husband and I contemplated having children, I wondered how I’d teach them right from wrong without a church. I toyed with the idea of dropping them off at a Sunday school, where they could ingest bite-sized chunks of morality in catchy songs and coloring books. But my husband — Catholic by culture, atheist by intellect — wanted nothing to do with organized religion.

And after years of living a “secular” life, I realized that my notion of sin has evolved. As a girl, my focus was on gaining admittance to heaven. Now I believe that this life is the only life we’ll know; this planet, our only existence. I am no longer motivated by fear of an unproven hell, but by real-world concerns about injustice and inequality.

Although I no longer have contact with my parents and live a very different life, we do have this in common. Just as my parents’ approach to imparting their values was shaped by an effort to avoid the sins they feared, I am raising my two daughters according to my moral code. To me, the greatest sin of all is failing to be an engaged citizen of the world, so the lessons are about being open to others rather than closed off.

We started taking our kids to marches when the younger one, Davia, was an infant perched on our shoulders and 3-year-old Tessa danced between the lines of protesters as if it were a block party. We’ve marched for racial justice and for women’s rights. Our church is the street, our congregation our fellow crusaders. We teach our children to respect the earth by reducing, reusing and recycling.

It’s sinking in. My daughters make me proud by taking their own actions to confront injustice where they see it — by insisting we keep a box of protein bars in the car to hand out to homeless people at stoplights, by participating in school walkouts against gun violence, by intervening when they see kids bullied on the playground, by always questioning the world around them.

Their activism has even inspired others. In 2016, Tessa choreographed 20 grade-schoolers in a “Kids for Hillary” pantsuit flash mob in Berkeley which was featured by local media outlets as well as Fast Company and even Courrier Japon.

As we stood in line a few weeks ago at the Dickens Fair, I realized that my kids already knew what sin was, without ever having been exposed to the onerous religious weight of the word. Despite being unchurched, they are empathetic, loving and kind. And even more: They are fearless.

I gazed into Davia’s upturned face and felt a rush of love and happiness. I had raised her without sin. Here was a kid who’d recently joked that the Christmas standard “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” should be changed to “I’m Dreaming of a Diverse Christmas.”

Ted Cruz Perspective on Shutdown

January 25, 2019


Out of Print Book 

PDF made available by a reader in France
140MB (searchable)
This link is likely to expire.  Please download soon. 

Does anyone know anything about this photo?

Comments might not work if you do not have a Google account.  Comments can be posted by email:joannahigginbotham@gmailcom 

Common-Sense Path out of Shutdown

Excellent advice from an Oregon Democrat Senator
Be obedient.  Obey the law of the land.
Democrat or Republican: first we are Americans


A Common-Sense Path out of the Federal Government Shutdown
Jeff has been pushing to end the senseless government shutdown as soon as possible. There is a common-sense path forward: Pass the Republican-written bills to fund the government that have already been agreed upon by both the House and Senate. Americans deserve better than to have their government held hostage by controversial policy demands.

If you are an Oregonian having trouble navigating a federal agency during the shutdown, Jeff may be able to help. Learn more here: 

President's 19Jan speech offering a solution
Commentary (not hostile)

Christian prisoner sees value in suffering

from the world
One of the first things Fr. Seraphim noticed about Orthodoxy was the value of suffering.  Protestants think the opposite -- they see suffering as linked to God's abandonment of an unrighteous person.

Christian imprisoned for helping girl escape court-imposed lesbian mom writes letter about suffering

January 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com
After entering prison in early December for helping a mother and daughter, Christian businessman Philip Zodhiates says that he has been awakened to the importance of suffering in the life of the Christian.

Zodhiates began a 36-month prison sentence on December 4 for helping a little girl escape the United States to avoid court-ordered visits with a lesbian “mother” who is not related to her. He is currently held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky.

Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella, fled the United States to Nicaragua with Zodhiates’ help after Isabella showed signs of psychological trauma following the visits, signs described in sworn affidavits that were ultimately ignored by the courts. Three individuals who aided in Isabella’s escape have been imprisoned as a result.

“One thing that has never really dawned on me to the (extent) I’m realizing now is that we as believers are to anticipate with eagerness suffering for Christ’s sake,” wrote Zodhiates on January 8 (full text of Zodhiates' letter below). “Jesus Himself said you and I must, when we desire to follow Him, take up our own cross.”
“In Matthew 24, Jesus promises to us that we will be delivered up to tribulation and even death ... hated by nations for His name’s sake. Matthew 24:9-13,” he added.

“But there is a true blessing that comes from this (Luke 6:22-23). So we as true believers are to embrace suffering for His name’s sale with all eagerness! Indeed, suffering, is one of the main themes of the entire New Testament! It is subject, expectation and realization that is constantly repeated over and over and over again!”

Zodhiates says his time in prison is enabling him to read the Scriptures more carefully, and also to organize a prayer time each evening. He plans to begin a Bible study with other prisoners soon, although he says he feels “very unqualified” to do so.

Appeal to Supreme Court being prepared
Zodhiates’ attorneys are preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn Zodhiates’ conviction. Their request that Zodhiates be permitted to await the outcome of the appeal outside of prison was turned down by the Supreme Court on January 4, after Justice Neil Gorsuch submitted the petition to a vote of the full court.

Zodhiates is the third person to suffer imprisonment for the cause of helping Lisa and Isabella escape the forced visits with Jenkins. Two Mennonites, Timothy Miller and Kenneth Miller (who are unrelated to one another and to Lisa and Isabella), have been imprisoned as well. Kenneth Miller in particular served more than two years in prison for his role in the escape, and risked more prison time for refusing to testify about the involvement of others. After a judge sought to induce him to speak by placing him in jail before serving his main sentence, Miller said his time behind bars had only made his convictions stronger.

Before entering prison, Zodhiates told LifeSite that he was motivated in his actions by concern about reports of evidence of abuse suffered by Isabella. Lisa Miller mentioned such evidence in her 2008 interview with LifeSite, and LifeSite later published sworn affidavits submitted to the Vermont courts regarding such evidence.

“In 2009, newspaper reports were that Lisa’s child was being sexually abused,” said Zodhiates. “When people are suffering abuse, poverty, or injustice, and I am asked to help, I do so. Thus my natural instinct was to help her and her daughter become free of the abuse. Helping others is always a primary motivation for me, especially so when children are involved.”

To donate to Zodhiates, who has incurred massive expenses in defending himself, click here.

Zodhiates can be reached by mail at the following address:
Philip Zodhiates 18649-084
FCI Ashland
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 6001
Ashland, KY  41105


ROCOR-MP Priest Might Not Get Away with Rape, after all

(Fr. Deacon Matthew Williams committed rape against a 15 year old girl in 2004.  At that time he was a ROCOR deacon.   He later joined the ROCOR-MP in 2007, where he was ordained a ROCOR-MP priest.)

This whole problem could be solved immediately if Matthew would do the right thing and resign from his ROCOR-MP priesthood.   It would be better for Matthew's soul if he were to resign voluntarily.  I commend Nathan for defending the victims.  Victims plural: because the sufferers are not just the girl, but her whole family suffers.   And the friends of her family suffer with them.

Thank you, Nathan.  
You and I are not friends by any stretch of the imagination, but I thank you for this.

If Nathan's JTO post is someday made unavailable, I have it archived here:
related post:

Song from Gilbert & Sulllivan Opera

"Poor Suffering Orthodoxy"

Concerning "Archbishop" Chrysostomos of Etna


Add star


Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 4:31 PM
To: joannahigginbotham@gmail.com

It recently occurred to me that since I left the Old Calendarists and have been exposing the Synod in Resistance (Cyprianites) on the Internet, I may have been slandered by them. Someone on Youtube suggested that I may have borderline personality disorder or autism. I have never been diagnosed by a licensed doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist (with a Ph.D) as suffering from any of these illnesses. It is possible that "Archbishop" Chrysostomos of Etna may have lied to people about me, flaunting his Ph.D. in psychology, announcing that I have one or more of those disorders; so I decided to write this piece in my defense. While I did spend some time with "Archbishop" Chrysostomos and his monastery, at no time did he ever sit down with me (as a licensed psychologist) for an hour in order to ascertain a psychological diagnoses. All we ever talked about was polemics, ecclesiology and Orthodoxy. So if in the event "Archbishop" Chrysostomos spread a slanderous lie about me suffering from one or more of the illnesses mentioned above, don't fall for it. Here is the truth of what the Etna monastery thought of me.

"Archbishop" Chrysostomos once told me in writing that he was fond of me when I was at his monastery.  He also once called me "Saint Albert." (That's my secular name). The Abbot Akakios once honored me at trapeza in front of the monastic brotherhood and said I was humble, quiet, pious, obedient, a hard worker and he said I never complain; and he said there was no reason why I should not succeed there. I wasn't even in a robe when he said that. He also once said that if I were to leave, it would be just as tragic as any of the other novices leaving. I wasn't even in a robe when he said that. And once he told me that if I were to leave, "it would be a tragedy, a real tragedy." So if they demonize me now, it is only to discredit me in your mind. I recommend you do not contact these people or have anything to do with them. The Abbot Akakios also once told me on the phone that I was "brought here by divine providence. Do you understand what I am saying?" He also once said, "You have a lot of potential."

I personally heard "Archbishop" Chrysostomos take the name of Jesus Christ in vain two different times, in front of monastics (which was selfish and scandalous). I also heard the Abbot Akakios cuss, "Archbishop" Chrysostomos cuss, and monastics there cuss. These are nasty people.

Aspect21(Youtube name).

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Joanna Higginbotham

Wed, Jan 16, 2019 at 5:22 PM
To: valdezmail1

The horror of Etna that you perceive is true.  I can substantiate most
of what you say about Etna and add much more.  Etna is worse than just
an embarrassment to Orthodoxy.  Etna is an impediment to Orthodoxy,
especially on the west coast of the USA.  I pray in my daily prayers
for God to take ecclesiastical authority away from Etna (so that they
stop hurting people).

However, Euthymios, you are disqualified as a witness against Etna.
You rant against everyone and your rants are twisted, unreasonable,
uncharitable, distortions.  Everyone I know who is sane thinks you are
crazy.  My people are not going to listen to what you have to say
about Etna because of what you've said about blameless others. And
that is a shame, because there is very little you witness about Etna
that I don't support.  I have my own horror stories to tell about
Etna.  And I know others with horror stories, but they are afraid to
talk.  One of the things they are afraid of is being considered one of
the "nuts" who go away ranting against Etna.

When someone crazy like you rants against Etna, all it does is give
Etna more justification.  Etna bishops defend themselves by saying,
"Look what the nuts (like Euthymios) say about us!"

You may publish this email.  But only if you publish it in its
entirety.  You are too inclined to extract a sentence or a phrase from
someone and misuse it to support an idea of yours.

love in Christ,


Thu, Jan 17, 2019 at 12:49 AM
To: joannahigginbotham@gmail.com

I could careless about the views of someone who actually thought the Apostle Paul was a Christian at the time he was persecuting Christians. You are not a Christian, you are a bonehead. You are under absolute and complete mind control, and incapable of recognizing all the facts which utterly refute your schismatic position. Read "Combatting Cult Mind Control," by Steven Hassan.


from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado Act II
source: extracted from here:

It is my very humane endeavour
To make, to some extent,
Each evil liver
A running river
Of harmless merriment.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime,
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment,
Of innocent merriment!

All prosy dull society sinners,
Who chatter and bleat and bore,
Are sent to hear sermons
From mystical Germans
Who preach from ten to four.
The amateur tenor, whose vocal villainies
All desire to shirk,
Shall, during off-hours,
Exhibit his powers
To Madame Tussaud’s waxwork.
The lady who dyes a chemical yellow,
Or stains her grey hair puce,
Or pinches her figger,
Is blacked like a nigger
With permanent walnut juice.
The idiot who, in railway carriages,
Scribbles on window panes,
We only suffer
To ride on a buffer
In Parliamentary trains.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime,
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment,
Of innocent merriment!

The advertising quack who wearies
With tales of countless cures,
His teeth, I’ve enacted,
Shall all be extracted
By terrified amateurs.
The music-hall singer attends a series
Of masses and fugues and ‘ops’
By Bach, interwoven
With Spohr and Beethoven,
At classical Monday Pops.
The billiard-sharp whom anyone catches
His doom’s extremely hard—
He’s made to dwell
In a dungeon cell
On a spot that’s always barred.
And there he plays extravagant matches
In fitless finger-stalls,
On a cloth untrue
With a twisted cue
And elliptical billiard balls.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime—
The punishment fit the crime;
And make each prisoner pent
Unwillingly represent
A source of innocent merriment,
Of innocent merriment!


A Note from the Editor of the Liturgical Calendar

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Daniel Olson
Date: Tue, Jan 15, 2019 at 6:36 AM
Subject: Liturgical Calendar 2019
To: (list)

Dear Subscriber to the SJKP Liturgical Calendar,

By God’s grace, it has proved possible to produce the SJKP Liturgical Calendar for 2019 in electronic format.

Attached are the pdf (Portable Document Format) files for 2019.

You should be able to print out a hard copy of the pdf files or transfer the pdf files to your portable device. If you encounter any problems with the pdf files, please contact me.

All the pdf files of the Liturgical Calendar for 2019 will also be made available on the SJKP website (www.sjkp.org) under “Resources”.

Please review the introductory material 
on pages 3 and 4 of the Liturgical Calendar for 2019.

All questions, comments, reports of errors, or other matters – particularly suggestion on how to improve the Liturgical Calendar – should be sent to me via e-mail at the following address: danielolson (at) cox (dot) net

The SJKP Wall Calendar for 2019 is now available for purchase
See the SJKP website (www.sjkp.org).

Please pray for the repose of the soul of the servant of God, the ever-memorable Protopriest Gregory (Williams), whose indispensable labors in publishing the Liturgical Calendar and numerous other Orthodox materials over many years greatly benefited the English-speaking Orthodox world.

Faithfully yours in Christ,

Daniel Olson


• California Heterodox Pastor resigns over gay issue his flock favors.

Optina Elder Ambrose Vision

Silence or a Vision of Eternal Rest.
A Manuscript by Elder Ambrose of Optina (†1891)

   It was a wonderful time in spring… I could not resist its allurement to throw myself into nature’s embrace, and that paradise of spring, which I chose as a place of my daily visits, was the dark, thick forest situated on the high bank of a big, wider river (the Oka) that washes with its milky waters several central Russian provinces.

   Giving myself over to this blessed state in the bosom of nature, I drank in its aromatic breadth and went deeply into the spiritual apprehension of the Creator, Who is too immense to behold…

   The surrounding world from which I came forth then retreated from me to somewhere far away, and disappeared into the realm of concepts foreign from me…

   I was alone. Around me there was only the slumbering forest. Its ancient giants stretched far into the skies. They searched for God. I was also in search for Him.

   But suddenly, I am outside of the forest, somewhere far away, in another world, quite unknown to me, never seen by me, never imagined by me… Around me there is bright white light! Its transcendence is so pure and enticing that I am submerged, along with my perception, into limitless depths and cannot completely fill myself with its lofty spirituality. 

Everything is so full of beauty all around.  So endearing is life… so endless the way.  I am being swept across this limitless, clear space.  My sight is directed upwards, does not descend anymore, does not see anything earthly.  The whole of the heavenly firmament has transformed itself before me into one general bright light, pleasing to the sight ....  But I do not see the sun. I can see only its endless shining and bright light.  The whole space in which I glide without hindrance, without end, without fatigue, is filled with white, just as is its light and beautiful beings, transparent as a ray of sun.  And through them I am admiring this limitless world.  The images of all these beings unknown to me are infinitely diverse and full of beauty ....  I also am white and bright as are they.  Over me, as over them, there reigns eternal rest.  Not a single thought of mine is any longer enticed by anything earthly, not a single beat of my heart is any longer moving with human cares or earthly passion.  I am all peace and rapture.  But I still am moving in this infinite light, which surrounds me without change.  There is nothing else in the world except for the white, bright light and these equally radiant numberless beings.  But all these beings do not resemble me, nor are they similar to each other; they are all endlessly varied, and compellingly attractive.  Amidst them, I fed myself incredibly peaceful.  They evoke in me neither fear, nor amaze­ment, nor trepidation.  All that we see here does not agitate us, does not amaze us.  All of us here are as if we have belonged to each other for a long time, are used to each other and are not strangers at all.  We do not ask questions, we do not speak to each other about anything.  We all feel and understand that there is nothing novel for us here.  All our questions are solved with one glance, which sees everything and everyone.  There is no trace of the wars of passions in anyone.  All move in different directions, opposite to each other, not feeling any limitation, any inequality, or envy, or sorrow, or sadness.  One peace reigns in all the images of entities.  One light is endless for all.  Oneness of life is comprehensible to all.

   My rapture at all this superseded everything. I sank into this eternal rest.  No longer was my spirit disturbed by anything. And I knew nothing else earthly.  None of the tribulations of my heart came to mind, even for a minute.  It seemed that every­thing I had experienced before on earth never existed.  Such was my feeling in this new radiant world of mine.  And I was at peace and joyful, and desired nothing better for myself.  All my earthly thoughts concerning fleeting happiness in the world died in this beautiful life, new to me, and did not come back to life again.  So it seemed to me at least, there, in that better world.

   But how I came back here - I do not recall.  What transitory state it was, I do not know. I only felt that I was alive, but I did not remember the world in which I lived before on earth.  This did not seem at all to be a dream.  Actually, about earthly things I no longer had the least notion.  I only felt that the present life is mine, and that I was not a stranger in it. In this state of spirit I forgot myself and immersed myself in this light-bearing eter­nity.  And this timelessness lasted without end, without mea­sure, without expectation, without sleep, in this eternal rest.  Thus it seemed to me that there would not be any kind of change....

   But then suddenly, the thread of my radiant life was cut off and I opened my eyes.  Around me was the familiar forest, and a beam of spring sunlight was playing on its meadows.  I was seized with terrible sadness.  "Why am I here again?" I thought.  And that radiant, light-emanating world which I had experi­enced with all its hosts of numberless visionary entities, vividly remained impressed before my mental eyes.  But my physical vision did not see it any longer.  This terrible and tearful sorrow I could not endure and I began to cry bitterly.

   Only after that experience did I believe in the concept of the separation of the soul from the body, and understood what the special spiritual world was.  But the question of what is the meaning of life still remained a mystery for me.  And in order to penetrate into this mystery I left this world into which I was born, and embraced the monastic life.

   "Oh, Father, then that must have been your dream?" I asked Fr. Ambrose, pointing to his manuscript.

   "I do not know whether it was a dream or whether it occurred in reality," answered the righteous Elder with concen­tration.  "I still have not solved that mystery for myself, but I believe that my spirit lives separately from my body; otherwise it could not have seen that which my physical vision does not know.  After all, one cannot perceive the light of day with the tips of the fingers on one's hand.  So also, I think my soul cannot visualize that which is not in God's world.  And if the soul sees this world, which my eyes do not see, then it must be that it factually does exist as something real.  And I believe in this absolutely.... ".

   With these words, the thoughtful glance of the Elder prayerfully rose to the icon of Christ, and he reverently crossed himself.

   With such universal mysteries was the soul of this highly­ revered Optina Monastery Elder, Ambrose, filled.  With such an outlook on God's world he directed all believing pilgrims who used to come to Optina to him to get a holy blessing for their lives.  And precisely in this transcendent spirit he greeted all people who were suffering in heart and soul, who sought in his holy guidance healing of their infirmities.  And how many living examples there were of the miraculous spiritual transformations of many people, who were truly partaking of the good counsel of Elder Ambrose....

   I knew a man in Christ. .. (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third heaven (II Cor. 12:2).*

*S. Glebov. From Russky Palomnik, 1904, no. 17, pp. 286–288

Fr. Leonid Kavelin, Elder Macarius of Optina translated by Valentina V. Lyovina (1995), St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, California, U.S.A.

Knowing that the devil can produce psychic experiences that mimic true visions from God, how do we know that this is a true vision except for the sanctity and discernment of the true elder who received this vision?  The first ring of truth that strikes me is Fr. Ambrose's response after he returned to his earthly senses.  He wept.  Bitter tears.  And then he renounced the world to seek after God.

Compare Fr. Ambrose's response to the Moody/MacLaine cases.  The people who come back from the "tunnel" do not 'weep by the waters of Babylon when they remember Sion.'  They do not go inward in prayer.  Instead they do the opposite.  They now have a mission and a purpose -- often to educate others and to testify to their experience of the existence of a soul outside the body.  Or maybe to lead a moral life (like a good Protestant) as an example for others to see.  Often while they are in their vision, before they are sent back, they are even told by some entity that they must go back to fulfill their mission.  The mission never has anything to do with repenting of sins or finding the Church (except maybe to infiltrate it and sully it).