Prudence True

The Art of Wisdom

through Ancient Words


  Fr. Jon Braun's

Seven Reason Why We Go to Church

1 September 2010

Dear Souls -

        Mathematics and theology both boggle my mind . . . too much knowledge leads to confusion. List the facts in clear order, and you have my devoted attention. Complicated details set the world a-whirling, while distilling life down to necessary points clarifies the essentials and provides perspective.

        But please don't take my word for it, listen below to Fr. Jon Braun's homily:

                                                    Why We Go to Church

                                                        1.  Duty

                                                            2.  Habit

                                                                3.  Social Occasion

                                                                   4.  The Sermon

                                                                       5.  The Music


                                                           Six:  To Acknowledge God

                                                           Seven:  To Give Thanks           

Acknowledge God and Give Thanks
    Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence


  Faith and Perseverance


4 September 2010

Dear Souls -

      A parallel sometimes strikes me out of nowhere, as this one did just a short time ago. Determination, perseverance, and steady steps forward along the same path. Sometimes you can't get around just plain old hard work.

                      Faith and Perseverance - Taking the Driving Test 960 times

                      Take a Look Here: Perseverance

      Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence


  The Divine Liturgy

of Saint John Chrysostom


8 September 2010

Dear Souls -

      Though I peck away here on my keyboard, I've really no idea where in cyber-land these words may rest. If the Orthodox faith is foreign to you, then you may want to see the introduction I've assembled.

     But, here lies a path towards wisdom.        
            Yours, Prudence


 On Being and Becoming Orthodox


9 September 2010

Dear Souls -

       Being and Becoming Orthodox is simpler than you imagine no matter your background. You don't have to spend hours and hours reading Orthodox books purchased from Amazon, or borrowed from well meaning Orthodox friends. Finding the answer to every theological question doesn't help all that much, and may muddle up your heart even more.

      Being and Becoming Orthodox for generations all across the Christian world has involved one simple step, no matter your age, shape, or mental capacity. No, you need not be a brilliant Orthodox theologian, and you may even be illiterate. (In fact, this may be the one situation in life where illiteracy is an advantage.)

      Being and Becoming Orthodox does not involve membership in an exclusive trendy club, or purchasing a new wardrobe (unless you are a priest). You can wear your ordinary casual business attire, despite some indications to the contrary. Your physical condition matters not at all, even if you can't bend your knees to touch the floor on special occasions. Sitting is fine, standing is fine, and a mix of both is best (in my opinion). Dietary restrictions are most important if you decide to move into a monastery, but if you are an ordinary soul living and working everyday, then fasting is up to you, despite some indications to the contrary. (It is obvious elaborate fasting charts are not effective on their own.)

      Being and Becoming Orthodox works best with a balanced individual, but as with any faith you will find the extremes. Give them a nod and continue on your way seeking those with a mature Orthodox faith as your guide.

      Being and Becoming Orthodox involves treating with respect Christians everywhere, even if you don't agree with their brand. Within the Orthodox Church there are bishops, priests, deacons, and the people. These four roles are all important, though some wear vestments and stand at the altar during the services. But within the Orthodox Church, bishops, priests, deacons and the people, must all work together.

      Being and Becoming Orthodox Christian is . . . the Divine Liturgy.

                                               Audio: The Divine Liturgy

                                               Matins - A Morning Service of the Orthodox Church

      But, here lies a path towards wisdom.        
            Yours, Prudence


 A Hot Cup of Tea


10 September 2010

Dear Souls -

        A hot cup of tea calms my soul, even on a hot day. I'm not content with just any brand of tea, and please never serve me an old Lipton teabag in a lukewarm tea stained mug. There is a ceremony to tea drinking, which I learned to appreciate while traveling through tea drinking countries outside our coffee drinking American borders. If you dine in a fine American restaurant, they often serve you tea in a tacky metal teapot with a pathetic looking teacup, and they are proud to bring you a tray of thumbed through wrinkled teabags. If you are lucky, then the tea won't have the taste of coffee residue. The same fine restaurant would never consider serving you lukewarm Folgers coffee in a chipped mug. But, in America tea drinkers are the minority, and we tolerate poor tea service even in our finest restaurants.


        At home I drink a specific tea ordered from Paris (yes, I'm a tea snob). For over a decade I've sent an order to the same tea shop, right in the heart of one of my favorite cities in the world, and two weeks later a package arrives at my door with delicious fresh tea. Just as coffee drinkers cherish their specific brand, I cherish my tea from a small, little known shop in Paris. While the most popular coffee brand here in America is recognizable on almost every corner in a major city, my tea shop in Paris has less than ten tea salons worldwide. This French tea company, established 130 years ago, was begun by someone with ancestors involved in the tea trade since the 17th century.


         The original tea salon is still in its original shop in Paris, and as you round the corner of the block you smell the fragrance of fresh tea lingering in the air. And if you are like me and spend most of your time lost in a big city, then you sigh with relief knowing you're on the right street at last. This tea company made a decision different from American coffee companies, and though they have expanded over the last decade (they now have products available at counters in various stores), they do not mass produce and mass market their tea. My cherished French tea company has not diluted their quality with commercial, corporate, and capitalist growth. They use a very un-American business model to maintain the original feel and taste of their tea.

        If you're wondering, I've had my hot cup of French tea this morning, but I'm thinking about more than just another cuppa. Branding the Orthodox faith in an American way has its disadvantages which cannot be overlooked. Reaching out with Orthodoxy is right (I love seeing visitors at this website from across the globe), but Americans have a way of taking the tea flavor right out of a teapot. And I'd rather not see the Orthodoxy taken right out of the Orthodox faith, even if this means expanding and multiplying the Orthodox Church here in America. Take a look at how you share the Orthodox faith, and ask yourself if you're serving tea in an American teapot. Sharing the Orthodox faith in an American way, is different than sharing the Orthodox faith . . . in an Orthodox way.

        Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence


 Complicated Courtesy


13 September 2010

Dear Souls -

      If I had more time and more wisdom I would rewrite this list, "Basic Principles of Attitude to the Non-Orthodox," in common people language. But for today, I'll just add that task to my own long list of

. . . maybe someday. These basic principles of complicated courtesy are from the Russian Orthodox Church - Department for External Church Relations:

                                       Basic Principles of Attitude to the Non-Orthodox

       "While rejecting views which are erroneous from the point of view of the Orthodox doctrine, the Orthodox are called to treat with Christian love those who confess these views. In their relations with the non-Orthodox, the Orthodox should bear witness to the holiness of Orthodoxy and to the oneness of the Church. In bearing witness to the Truth, however, the Orthodox should be worthy of their witness: causing offense to non-Orthodox Christians is inadmissible." (7.1)

          But, here lies a path towards wisdom.        
            Yours, Prudence


 Orthodoxy and Evangelism


21 September 2010
Dear Souls -
      Visual images tug at your emotions in long lasting ways. My uncle has a painting on the wall of his home which has caused controversy for as long as I can remember (my family knows exactly which painting I'm referring to). The beautiful portrait of a man blends the elements of dark and light in a perfect combination; the man is good and e - - l. My uncle loves to argue the man is good, not
e - - l. But then again, my uncle loves to argue and arguing is his profession. The painting, which hangs at the end of the hall as you walk toward the bedrooms (not an accidental positioning by my uncle, a devout Orthodox Christian), stirs feelings of fear, trepidation, and intrigue. You must choose to look at the painting, or veer your eyes elsewhere as you head straight down the hallway.
      Words also elicit emotions in varying degrees, which linger in your mind.
       Headache. Earache. Stomachache.
       Nausea.Vomiting. Diarrhea.
       You get the idea, don't you?
       The word evangelism evokes within me sensations of discomfort.
        Crowded stuffy room. Long lines. Tight shoes.
        As an Orthodox Christian born and raised in America I've spent my life on the receiving end of all  sorts of aggressive Christian evangelism (heavy sweater, hot day, large lunch), so I'm wary of the word evangelism. (Funny coincidence, the number of letters evangelism has in common with the four letter word e - - l, is four.)
        My experiences with evangelism are a contrast between pride and humility. As an Orthodox Christian I was taught to humbly share my faith. Prying my faith into the soul of someone else was considered prideful, rude, and dangerous.
        Dangerous, because Pride is the favorite tool of the one represented in my uncle's beautiful portrait. (Did I mention the man has suspicious tufts of black hair sticking up on the top of his head, and he peers directly at you with large gleaming eyes?)
        As with any blending of dark and light, evangelism contrasts the qualities of good and e - - l. With careful attention evangelism contains elements of restraint and humility, and avoids the darker elements of Pride. If your individual style of evangelism includes a mix of restraint and humility, and is without Pride, then you are a rare and gifted soul.

    But, here lies a path towards wisdom.        
            Yours, Prudence


 Liturgy and Communion as a Child


23 September 2010

Dear Souls -

        Every now and then when my mind is still, I conjure up clear images from my childhood. When I stand at the windows and peer inside my kindergarten classroom, I see the classroom as it was many years ago when I was a small child sitting in the tiny chairs. The sights, sounds, and scents swirl around in my mind. When I attend the Orthodox church where I sat in the pews as a child, I see and feel the Liturgy of my early childhood. The sights, sounds, and scents are present right there with me.

        My grandparents attended this same Orthodox church from its earliest days; the placard on the wall outside reads "Founded in 1948." My parents married in this church, it is where I was baptized, and each Sunday my family participates in the Divine Liturgy. On occasion I attend this Orthodox church of my childhood where I feel the past and present collide. The interior of the church has not aged visibly, the Liturgy has not changed (an unchanging Orthodox faith), and the scent of incense still permeates the air. And today glancing up at the image of Christ in the dome above, the sense of years passed vanishes.

        When I retrieve my early childhood memories of Liturgy and Communion, the past steps into the present with me. I feel the frustration of a child forced to stand, when sitting seems the better option. I hear the Liturgy with some complicated sounds in a foreign language (Arabic) and some in English, but in all, too long and too confusing. My head spins with lightheaded feelings of hunger; I dream of a cold glass of water and a large piece of toast . . . and I see my mother's stern look as I squirm and poke at my brother. Thinking how quickly I will change my clothes after church, I ponder how uncomfortable the ladies around me look in their fine dresses, all the while sneaking envious peaks at the older folks sitting down for most of the service; and I consider how an understanding God would not be upset with me for sitting when others are standing. Then for a moment I feel a sense of peace, as I glance up at Christ looking down from the dome above my head, and I remember to focus for a short prayer before Communion. 

   Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence




25 September 2010

Dear Souls -










                     edify: to improve morally or intellectually, especially in religious knowledge

     Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence


 Know Not


28 September 2010

Dear Souls -

         Yesterday I did something strange.

          I was tired; I was distracted; I was rushing.

          But those are all poor excuses.

          I left the house wearing two different shoes.

          And I didn't even notice.


          On my left foot was a yellow leather flip flop.

          On my right foot was a rubber rugged-wear flip flop.

          Both my feet were happy and comfortable.

          Both my feet were in my favorite flip flops.

          But they didn't match.

          I didn't notice until I arrived at my second stop.

          As I walked through the parking lot,

          I glanced down.

          And on my feet,

          I saw two pairs of flip flops.

          In my mind,

          I was wearing my favorite flip flops.

          I knew I put them on as I left my house.

          I sensed them on my feet.

          But I did not see my shoes,

          until I looked with both eyes.

          I did not know,

          all I thought

          I knew.

    Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence


 God willing


30 September 2010

Dear Souls -

         In one of the homilies I've listened to recently of Fr. Jon Braun's (Litany for the Chrismation of an Adult), he mentions during his years preaching at universities for Campus Crusade for Christ that no students ever said they were Orthodox Christians; this bothers him, because he knows they were there (aha! in the background). I believe his path did cross Orthodox Christian students, and I believe they did say they were Orthodox Christian, but no on ever heard them.

        The other day I was floating in the ocean having a long in depth conversation with an unlikely soul God placed right there on the surfboard next to me.

        "Do you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins?" he asked. "If you are a Christian, then this is what you believe."

         The Orthodox faith I know is not a neat package tied up with a pretty bow on top. I have a difficult time distilling my faith down into tidy one liners. And evangelism makes me squirm. This seasoned, rugged big wave rider (claiming to have surfed 80ft to 100ft waves one historic kapu day in Hawaii), was defining for me the Christian faith he knew. (He later quoted me in the worst white-guy Arabic I've ever heard, "God is great, and God willing.")

         When I mentioned I was an Orthodox Christian, he had no idea what I meant, and I did not have any tidy Orthodox one liners stored in the pocket of my wetsuit to describe my faith. We looked around us as birds skimmed across the glassy surface of the ocean and we agreed that God was everywhere. I offered a poor description of my Orthodox faith, and we shared respect for the God we both knew was present there in that moment.

         Evangelism is the preaching of the gospel and converting others to Christianity. Those I find crossing my path often know the gospel (with unlimited pocket quotations near at hand) and are already Christian. They have not heard of the Orthodox faith, and they have not listened. Orthodox evangelism does not mean wrapping Orthodoxy up into a neat package with a pretty bow on top; and it does not mean having theology sparring matches with other Christians.    

         Live your faith every day.

         God willing.

     Simple thoughts from my simple soul . . .

        Yours, Prudence