Gregory Palamas and the Struggle of Lent

“God wants to reveal himself to the extent that we can bear.”

Today, the 2nd Sunday of Lent, is Gregory Palamas Sunday in the Orthodox Church. I was attracted to Gregory’s theology long before I was Orthodox. He’s the guy who articulated the doctrine of the energies of God, providing the defense of Peter’s statement that we can be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4) at a time when that idea was being explained away as mere hyperbole.

But in today’s homily, Fr. Paul focused, not on his theology, but rather on his Christian life that made the theology possible. Gregory defended the idea that we can be partakers of the divine nature because he had experienced that very thing.

This is something very few humans have experienced. As Fr. Paul said it this morning, “God wants to reveal himself to the extent that we can bear.” The problem is that few of us have bothered training systematically and for any length of time to be able to bear God’s very person.” The problem isn’t with God’s desire to give it to us; it’s rather in our inability to receive the gift.

St. Gregory Palamas’ ascetical discipline was amazing. If he lived today, good Christian folk would no doubt have declared him nuts and had him committed. But spiritual struggle incarnated into human struggle was the root of his insights. Just as a weight lifter, through long and careful training can bear weight that is seemingly impossible, so the spiritual athlete can bear God’s glory to an extent that is seemingly impossible to those of us who are less disciplined.

This is the gift of St. Gregory to the Church, and a wonderful invitation to Lent.

A Note on Wall Street Corruption

Porter Stansberry is one of the sharpest financial analysts out there. His most recent claim to fame (that got notice from places like CNBC, Bloomberg, and the Financial Times, was his call several years ago that GM was going to go broke. He was widely jeered and hated for this “clearly anti-American” call, but history proved him to be correct.

A couple of years ago he set his sights on one of America’s most corrupt institutions: Goldman Sachs. This week he offered a mea culpa on his analysis of Goldman, not because he was wrong, but because he so completely underestimated the fraud going on. Here’s an excerpt from his comments. (The article is proprietary, so I can only quote short excerpts.)

As was subsequently revealed in the spring of 2009, my report was right on the money. Goldman had roughly $20 billion in exposure to AIG and received roughly $14 billion of money the federal government used to bail out AIG.

But I completely missed one big part of the story… And once this fact becomes common knowledge, it will probably mean jail time for several leading Goldman executives and the end of the firm. What did I miss? The entire Goldman-AIG relationship was a complete sham. Let me explain…

Goldman eventually admitted it had insured roughly $20 billion worth of subprime CDOs with AIG and had major exposure to the firm. But the New York Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs never revealed this critical fact: Goldman didn’t merely buy insurance on a bunch of random subprime CDOs. It actually bought insurance on special CDOs it had put together and sold to its own clients. In other words, Goldman knew more about these CDOs than anyone else. Goldman bought insurance on these CDOs because it knew they’d collapse.

This is tantamount to building a house, planting a bomb in it, selling it to an unsuspecting buyer, and buying $20 billion worth of life insurance on the homeowner – who you know is going to die!

These facts all came to light because of research done by the office of Darrell Issa, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. These new documents will certainly lead to a full investigation of the Goldman-AIG dealings and the subsequent $180 billion bailout led by the New York Federal Reserve. My bet? Heads will roll. If you own Goldman Sachs, you’d better sell.

Notice who else evidently knew of the corruption and turned a blind eye: The New York Federal Reserve. I agree with Porter that someone at Goldman is likely going to jail, but somehow I suspect everyone at the Federal Reserve will be just fine. We Americans trust the government, after all, and don’t go after the regulators.

The Stansberry Research web portal is http://www.stansberryresearch.com/

What the World Eats

Follow this link to see pictures of what a family eats in East Coast America, Egypt, Sicily, Japan, Ecuador, Chad, Great Britain, Mexico, The West Coast America (who says Californians eat healthier?), and Bhutan.

wow!

I’ve traveled a wee bit in Mexico and heard anecdotally about their love affair with Coca-cola. Look at that line of Coke bottles (no doubt with cane sugar instead of corn syrup) across the back of the table.

I saw this on Mark Mitchell’s post over at Front Porch Republic.

Spam, spam, wind, spam

I use the Akismet spam filter on this website. It’s a great filter, extremely accurate and virtually no spam gets through. I stick with Yahoo! mail for the same reason. I also have a gmail account that I use for a couple of things as well as the email associated with my ISP. The Yahoo! spam filter is hands down the best filter of the bunch and so I stick with Yahoo! because their spam filter saves me a lot of hassle — and I don’t lose real mail in the spambox like I regularly do on the gmail account.

All my Yahoo! spam goes into a folder and it gets automatically disappeared down the rabbit hole after 2 weeks. The amount of spam I get is very consistent and at any given time there’s 70 to 80 messages in my spambox …

… Until last week, when it started dropping. First down to 40 and then to 21 and now down to 17. I’ve never had so little spam in the spambox. I wonder if some major spammer somewhere in the world just got taken down by the authorities.

On the other hand, I suspect something is wrong over at Akismet. I’ve been asked to moderate a dozen message posted to the blog today — all of them spam.

Who knows, maybe the spammers decided to quit spamming me and start spamming my blog instead. Who knows. Hopefully Akismet will be back on line soon and life can get back to normal.

It’s not like I don’t have time to deal with the spam though. We got an inch of snow last night and then the wind started blowing so our road is drifted in. I’m supposed to be in town at 8:30 tomorrow morning. Hopefully the snow plow will have cleared a path by then.

Who Dat? Dat Hugh!

I don’t think I’m quite as bad as Dr. Sheldon Cooper (the uber-geek physicist on The Big Bang Theory), but I was reminded how geekily skewed my perspective on pop culture is during tonight’s Super Bowl. I normally don’t stick around for the half time show, but I was still in the room when the music started. I looked up and exclaimed, “Cool, it’s Hugh Fitzcairn!” and promptly sat down to watch the show.

I suspect Roger Daltrey is better known to most folks as the lead singer for The Who. But I’ve always associated him with the television series Highlander (which is still one of my all-time favorite t.v. programs), on which he played Duncan McLeod’s sometime sidekick, Hugh Fitzcairn. Who can forget the series of episodes where they kept blowing each other up? Or when they stole the Stone of Scone?

Oh yeah, it turns out ol’ “Hugh” sings in some British Rock Band too. Who knew! (It’s a pun! Bazinga!)

Another Word on Retirement Funds

Yesterday I posted something I considered quite ominous about the FDIC’s involvement with private citizen’s IRA funds in relation to their takeover of the failed 1st Regional Bank of L.A.

Turns out there’s more to the story. Today former congressman Bob Bauman wrote a blog post delineating some other even more ominous items in relation to the possibility of nationalizing pensions and some of the implications of this thinking. Read Bob’s post entitled, “Will Obama Nationalize U.S. Pensions?”

Oh, and yes, the Sovereign Society is always trying to sell something, but they’re good people and I’ve never heard of them abusing their mailing lists.

Inflation? Deflation? Inflation!

There’s been a debate going on as to whether the global economic problems and boneheaded government responses are inflationary or deflationary. On the deflation side: people are losing jobs and have no money – prices have to go down. On the inflation side: governments are printing money like never before in history – prices have to go up.

Allan Meltzer, Fed-watcher par excellence (he’s literally writing the book on the Federal Reserve, a 2 vol tome of which the first vol. is out) makes the case for inflation here. In my opinion, the deflation argument is strictly academic and completely out of touch with both Main Street and Wall Street, but who wants to listen to me!

But Allan Meltezer’s “The Fed’s Anti-Inflation Exit Strategy Will Fail” hits the nail on the head, and he’s worth listening to.

Source: Gary North.