Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Questions and Answers 14 - 19

Stolen Relics of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

Question 14: Can you give us an update on the stolen relics of Saint Anastasia and Saint Polycarp in Greece?

Answer: As far as I know, though there have been arrests in the cases, the skull of Saint Anastasia the Pharmakolitria and the right arm of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna remain missing. This is especially sad to me, since Saint Anastasia appeared to my grandfather who was a lamp lighter in her church in Nicomedia when he was a child and healed him of a terminal illness, and through the information provided by the Mystagogy Resource Center the right arm of Saint Polycarp was brought to Romania by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and venerated by over a million people. These two great treasures are a major loss for Greece, and we should pray for their return.

At the link below, you can see a photo from this past February from the feast of Saint Polycarp presided over by Metropolitan Hierotheos, with the icon of Saint Polycarp and the broken glass under it which once contained the right arm of the Saint.

Orthodox and the Jews of Israel

Question 15: Why are so many Orthodox anti-Israel? In the past few days, I have noticed this more and more in social media.

Answer: There are basically three reasons, though the factor for each individual may not entail all three:

1. Many Orthodox Christians are die-hard conspiracy theorists and anti-semites. Often these people tend to lean to the right politically and ideologically. No matter what, they will never take the side of the Jews, because they think Zionists are responsible for just about all the evils of the world. And anyone who does side with the Jews on any matter, are either puppets of the Zionists, or Zionists themselves.

2. Many Orthodox Christians who lean toward the left politically and take on its ideology tend to be anti-Israel. This is primarily because, among other things, they believe the weak are always the victims and the strong are always wrong. This is why they tend to feel more sympathy for a terrorist that kills innocent people based on their ideology, claiming they understand their plight, than a soldier fighting to protect basic human rights.

3. Many Orthodox Christians are overly sympathetic to Palestinians because a minority of them are Orthodox Christians, but in being overly sympathetic, along with the fact that they are leftist liberals or right wing conspiracy theorists, they believe the propaganda of Hamas. Hamas wisely uses the media to win the sympathies of both sides in propagating their propaganda.

This is my short answer to your question, and from whence it all stems.

However, this is not only an Orthodox problem, but a lot of the blame, perhaps most of it, belongs to the media. These past few days with the media once again being sympathetic to terrorist propaganda, it is not at all surprising to me that many Orthodox would be so naive to buy into it. It has happened many times in the past, and will continue to happen.


Question 16: I recently went on a ghost tour while on vacation and the tour guide recommended that we photograph a certain paranormal hot spot, where orbs are said to often appear in photos. She explained that these orbs can possibly be spirits. Is this true?

Answer: I also have been on many ghost tours where the tour guide suggests the same thing, and I have also looked at and studied hundreds of photos and videos of orbs in paranormal locations. Just from my own experience, I can assure you 100% that orbs are in fact environmental contaminations (dust, flying insects, moisture, light reflections, etc.). These do create orbs. If you don't want to take my word for it, then examine what the vast majority of veteran and seasoned paranormal investigators say about orbs. To save you the trouble, they discount or dismiss them when they are found in photos or videos. But no matter what I say to people, or what these investigators say, some people will still believe that orbs are Grandma or Grandpa or Fluffy the cat or a guardian angel or even a demon; whatever makes them feel better. Unfortunately many paranormal shows on television perpetuate the myth that orbs are paranormal, but they are not.

At this point, the only time I will take an orb seriously or at least give it a second thought is if the orb is solid and of an unusual size and/or if it shows human-like intelligence in the way it moves around. I once worked at a college as a security guard where around sixteen reports were given to me of ghost sightings and paranormal happenings. One of these was from my manager, who was once a professional crime scene investigator, who reported to me that he saw a solid luminous orb the size of a basketball floating outside the second floor of a classroom building. Knowing his credibility and trusting his judgment, this is the only orb from my experience that I would label as possibly paranormal, but it still could have just been a ball of energy, similar to ball lightning. I have also myself seen big luminous orbs, dozens of them, at Brown Mountain in North Carolina, which is famous for these types of sightings. Though there is no official explanation for these, and some do say they are paranormal, the spirits of Native Americans in fact, most scientists would say they are natural balls of light/energy that probably form in that particular environment.

Naming Your Child Jesus

Question 17: Can an Orthodox Christian name their child Jesus?

Answer: I personally have never met an Orthodox Christian named Jesus. Could it be done? I suppose so. The real question is whether it should be done. Personally I believe, and I think this is embedded in the consciousness of the Orthodox Church, that the name of Jesus, which is "the name above every name," should not be adopted by anyone due to it being the name of the God-man. The closest I have ever heard of someone naming their child Jesus is if they named their child Joshua, which is the Hebrew word for Jesus. However, in Greek and Hebrew the name Joshua is the same exact thing as Jesus, which is why you won't find many Greeks if any named Joshua, and even if they were they would celebrate their name day on September 1st, which is the feast day of Righteous Joshua the Son of Nun from the Old Testament. Of course many children are named Chris, but this is not necessarily short for Christ, but for Christopher, which means "Bearer of Christ," though the Greek name Christos is associated with Christ and their name day is usually Christmas.

The Forbidden Fruit as an Apple

Question 18: Why is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil depicted as an apple? In the book of Genesis it is written simply as “fruit”?

Answer: The custom of depicting the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as an apple arose in the Western European artistic tradition. This may be because the apple, specifically the crab apple, originated in central Asia, near the location of the supposed Garden of Eden. This depiction may also have originated as a Latin pun: by eating the mālum (apple), Eve contracted malum (evil). It is also possible that this depiction originated simply because of the religious painters' artistic licence. Furthermore, the larynx, specifically the laryngeal prominence that joins the thyroid cartilage, in the human throat is noticeably more prominent in males and was consequently called an Adam's apple, from a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit getting stuck in Adam's throat as he swallowed it. Despite all this, we do not know what the fruit was, and many have speculated other fruits besides the apple.

The Guardian Angel and Sin

Question 19: Is it true that one’s Guardian Angel may leave someone if they sin?

Answer: The Guardian Angel is given to Orthodox Christians at Baptism for their entire life. If someone lives a defiled life, then the Guardian Angel may depart from them, because his holiness is incompatible with the sinful stench that comes from such a person. However, the Guardian Angel does not completely abandon such a person. Having separated himself from them, he continues to pray for them who is under his heavenly protection. When that person wakes up spiritually, brings repentance and correction of their life, the Guardian Angel will return to them.

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