Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas 2009 with James, John and Dylan

(Click on images to enlarge)

Youngest son John and friend Dylan came from Salt Lake City to spend as much of the Christmas holidays as weather and work would permit. They were delayed two days before Christmas by a regional snow storm and had to leave a day early to avoid another storm on their return. We did manage to spend Christmas Day through the following Sunday together. What fine conversations and fellowship we had despite truncated time constraints.

Above, at our home for Christmas dinner (which James and Dylan prepared) and light dessert (by Birgitta), from left to right: Dylan, John, James (up from Santa Fe), Birgitta and yours truly.

Below, John plays his newest violin after Sunday Liturgy to the delight of St. Dimitri parishioners and guests. Priest Fr. John Hennies and Birgitta are in the foreground with their backs to us while enjoying John's playing in the downstairs fellowship kitchen. At the far left, little Stephanie peeks at the picture taker.


Jean Pierre & family + two friends at St. Dimitri's

Original post: 27 December 2009
Updated: 14 January 2010

(Click on image to enlarge)

One of the delights of coming to St. Dimitri parish is meeting people such as Jean-Pierre Julien and his family. Although they live in France, Jean-Pierre considers St. Dimitri his home parish where he was Chrismated. He works off and on at Los Alamos National Laboratory as visiting professor of physics from the National Center for Scientific Research in Grenoble, France.

From left to right are:Jean-Pierre, wife Nathalie (who cooks wonderful escargot!), third daughter Eloise (12), new father T.J holding just baptized Lilu Gabriel (first grandchild), new mother Marie (oldest daughter), second daughter Fantine (17) and newly Chrismated fourth daughter Camille (9). Standing behind and to the right are the two friends: yours truly (Zhenya Arseny) and wife Birgitta.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Marshall Plan for the Planet

Original Post: December 25, 2009
Updated: January 3, 2010

(Click on pages to enlarge)

When I read this article about actor Jeff Bridges' character in the current movie Men Who Stare At Goats in a magazine received the day before Christmas Eve, I laughed out loud! How timely and appropriate!

If you read carefully, you will see mention of Jim Channon's commanding officer. Victoria, the wife of that officer once kept my RPK device on a table in her living room in Santa Fe as a conversation piece. She told me that it never ceased to evoke lively discussions. I'm tempted to call Victoria's experience Women who stare at hanging objects! HarHarHar! When she returned the device to me after several months, it had undergone an inadvertent fall off her table with the result that one of the tiny 1-inch long links in one of the two spring assemblies was missing. That is why the red object now hangs at a level one inch above the silver object. See:

The second RPK experiment is nearing operational status. The above RPK device has now been modified so that the objects again hang at the same level. (One spring link has been removed from the spring chain attached to the silver object.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Strategic Planning Committee discusses "The Goals of the Orthodox Church in America -- the Next Twenty Years"

December 23, 2009
Latest update:
December 24, 2009

Metropolitan Jonah and members of the Strategic Planning Committee

In reading the account of the December 14, 2009 meeting of the 10-member Strategic Planning Committee of the Metropolitan Council (MCSPC), several items caught my eye. They heartened my waning optimism for the OCA in general and for our local St. Dimitri of Rostov Mission in particular.

Metropolitan Jonah said, "The Church must manifest in and to the world this perfect Love and Life of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To image God's life her own life must mirror this mystery of hierarchy and conciliarity in love. She has no 'agenda' separate from this mission…"

According to the MCSPC, "this work will require the Church to describe her mission and how it can be implemented in the present time in America including, as necessary, a reexamination of administrative structures and governing Statutes.

"…This means that very soon all the faithful of dioceses and parishes will be encouraged to know what concerns the bishops and teachers of the Church have expressed; to respond to these concerns; and to expand upon these concerns and ideas in order to refine and advance the Church's mission.

"…This work has been stifled by a confusion of terms and goals among Orthodox themselves, and by an unfortunate and unnecessary conflict of two essential terms, which are of the essence of the life of the Holy Trinity, and therefore of the Church: the terms hierarchy and conciliarity. Through a concerted, intentional engagement of the whole Church, we hope to overcome such confusion and to render ourselves open to receiving God's word for the Church's life and work for our time."

I awoke this morning (December 23) with the above diagram in mind, wondering if it would produce the cross I'd imagined from the terms "hierarchy" and "conciliarity". It didn't quite fit, as you can see, but perhaps you get the idea.

Then, a 2004 conversation came to mind between Ken Wilber and Robert Kegan, published on the Integral Institute website. The title of the conversation hooked me, since I was then still struggling to understand my Mormon background and my many Mormon family members and friends. This was before I began investigating Orthodoxy. This remembered conversation resolved my conflict between these two above-mentioned words.

Unless an ecclesiastical hierarchy is, itself, spiritually true and healthy, it cannot expect conciliarity to thrive. Here is what Harvard Professor Robert Kegan has to say about how to heal any unhealthy external hierarchy.

The Evolving Self. Why the Hierarchy Within Can Heal the Hierarchy Without
by Robert Kegan

Note: (Quoting from the Integral Institute article):
"Robert Kegan is a founding member of Integral Institute and the author of the critically acclaimed books The Evolving Self, In Over Our Heads, and How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work.

"Bob is the first-ever Meehan Professor of Adult Learning and Professional Development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As the holder of this endowed chair, Bob has the official support of HGSE to pursue developmental studies for the rest of his career.

"This is significant. For the past several decades developmental studies have fallen upon some hard times in academia. For many, to have a developmental view is to be hierarchical—and to be hierarchical is to be oppressive, regressive, patriarchal, and a direct contributor to the suffering of untold millions. The fact that the HGSE has decided to so clearly support Bob's work is a welcome sign that the winds may be shifting

"It's important to note that there are (at least) two significantly different ways that "hierarchy" can be understood: as it exists in the exterior structure of a society and as it exists in the interior structure of an individual. Historically, enormous abuses of power have occurred by those at the top of a societal hierarchy—but those who would do so are by definition not at the higher stages of the interior, developmental hierarchy.

"Psychologically, people grow through stages of increasing competence, care, and concern. Each stage transcends and includes the function of what came before, but excludes an exclusive identity with that function.

"In Bob's work he outlines Five Orders of Consciousness:
First Order: Impulsive—Perceives and responds by emotion.
Second Order: Imperial—Motivated solely by one's desires.
Third Order: Interpersonal—Defined by the group.
Fourth Order: Institutional—Self directed, self authoring.
Fifth Order: Interindividual—Interpenetration of self systems.
Loosely, one can think of the first and second orders as egocentric (me), the third order as ethnocentric (us), and the fourth and fifth orders as worldcentric (all of us). If one grows from egocentric to ethnocentric, one doesn't stop caring about oneself, but that care and concern is now extended to one's family, community, nation, and so on. Likewise with the growth from ethnocentric to worldcentric, that care is now extended to all people regardless of race, class, creed, gender, etc.

"A person at the top of this interior hierarchy, i.e. worldcentric, would categorically never use any power given to them by a social hierarchy for less than worldcentric reasons. Needless to say, Hitler was not a worldcentric individual.

"As Bob points out, one of the most complete ways to illustrate how levels of developmental complexity exist in the subjective, intersubjective, objective, and interobjective aspects of reality is the following diagram of Ken's:

"The Five Orders of Consciousness exist in the intentional (I) quadrant, but their influence permeates the behavioral (it), cultural (we), and social (its) quadrants. Likewise, those domains can influence the speed at which one does or does not evolve through the Five Orders."

Returning to Metropolitan Jonah's new vision for the OCA, I cannot help wonder if these Strategic Planning Committee meetings portend a complete return to the essential mission that Metropolitan Jonah has articulated. Could it be that the above mentioned restructuring (i.e., perestroika?!) would ever include the OCA hierarchy deciding to lead the way by divesting itself of the extravagant imperialistic ecclesiastical trappings that began to creep into and corrupt the church during Constantine's reign?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meeting Vladimir

Original post: 15 December 2009
Latest update: 16 December 2009

After entering the local MVD (Motor Vehicle Department) office on Tuesday, December 15, to renew my commercial bus driving licence and taking a queue number to join those waiting along the east windowed wall, I noticed a vacant seat next to a young man with a Cal Berkeley jacket on. I sat next to him saying, "It would seem you are a Berkeley man". He smiled and nodded, to which I made him aware that I had graduated from Cal in June 1960. This sparked some animated exchanges, during which I noticed a very slight accent. "Do you speak Russian?" I asked in Russian. "Of course", he answered in Russian and then informed me he was from Siberia, working on a joint scientific experiment at the National Laboratories here in Los Alamos and in Berkeley..

Delightful encounter! Nevertheless, I couldn't help wondering if the corresponding letters of the Motor Vehicle Department rendered in Russian did not have an eerie connotation. The letters "MVD" in Soviet Russia stood for "Ministry of Internal Affairs", which was a department of the Soviet secret police....

Because of the slowness of the Los Alamos MVD process, he gave me his lower numbered ticket and took mine, since he had a meeting he was about to be late for, and left. Before he left we exchanged contact information with the promise that we would meet again. I invited him to examine this blog and comment in Russian, if that was more comfortable, and I would write in English. I hope he writes...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reflecting on Flying Saucers

December 12, 2009
Updated: December 23, 2009

In reflecting on the origins of my most recent attempts at an RPK (remote psychokinesis) experiment, I recalled an intense dilemma long ago when I first began trying to reconcile what my heart was witnessing to my head. I was then a professional physical scientist.

The moment was on April 23, 1965, during work at General Atomic Laboratory in La Jolla, California. I had just received a newly published book titled Truth by Reason and by Revelation sent to me in care of the laboratory by LDS friend and mentor Howard E. Salisbury. The author was his nephew Frank B. Salisbury, a respected professor of botany at Colorado State University (now retired from Utah State University in Logan).. Howard wanted me to review the book from the perspective of a fellow believing Mormon scientist.

Prior to that day, my opinion of the subject of Flying Saucers or UFOs was that it was silly and a product of social hysteria. Not to be taken seriously. Yes, I was aware of Carl Jung's essay Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth, and let it go at just that. However, as I got into Frank B's book I came across a chapter on UFO's that intrigued me.

This stuff is not new, he wrote. Just take a look at ancient scriptures of all kinds and note the images. Forget the explanations. Just consider the images: Ezekiel, Isaiah, etc. Then compare them to the images being described by witness accounts these days. Lots of similarity.

Frank B. was writing in language and logic that I understood and accepted. I was no longer able to dismiss or marginalize what he was presenting. So, I approached my brother Virgil who was a US Air Force officer for information from the Air Force point of view, rather than more sensational newspaper accounts. I wanted something from inside the military arm that ought to know about such things, if any agency should. I knew nothing about what my brother had undergone after my memo to him of February 1965, but he nevertheless reluctantly responded to this new request a few weeks later.

What he gave me were two or three obscure newsletters written by a local man named George Adamski, who claimed personal contact with beings from extraterrestrial spacecraft. My brother made his personal opinion clear to me. In effect he said, "The guy is a kook. That is all I'm going to give you. Don't bother me with this stuff any more."

Although Adamski's newsletters to his followers were crudely written, they had a ring of truth to me. I couldn't write him off as a kook as did my brother. A few days later I became aware that Adamski had written three books, all of which were on the San Diego Library shelves. I checked them out and read them all. Their titles were: Flying Saucers have landed; Inside the Spaceships; and Flying Saucers Farewell.

I was profoundly affected by Adamski's story. "This guy is not making this stuff up!", I thought and decided to find him to see if he would come across to me eyeball to eyeball as he did in his books. It didn't take long before I learned that George Adamski had died on April 23, 1965 in Bethesda, Maryland--the very day my fascination began!

This synchronicity startled me.

Having no longer available someone claiming such experience to talk to directly, I began to wonder if there was an experiment I could design that help resolve my dilemma. If such an experiment were conceivable, I reasoned, it must meet three criteria, else I would not pursue it. The three criteria were: 1) it must be simple; 2) it must be direct; and 3) it must be self-evident. If those three criteria could be met (so I promised Providence in wondering about it), then I would not prejudice my mind further. I would follow my instincts where ever they lead.

Little did I know what I was opening myself into!

That was mid-May 1965. By the following mid-August a first image of my experiment came to mind in a dream, but which I had a hard time taking seriously. It seemed TOO simple! Nevertheless, later that same afternoon I was surprised to experience a personal sighting of the kind of spacecraft that I had been reading about. (See my archival blog accounts of those intervening events.) That seemingly too-simple dream image, plus the anchoring experience of the sighting, together with other unusual experiences that began to occur in my personal and professional life since then, has led me to the RPK experiment mentioned above more than 44 years later! Simple, direct and self-evident criteria, indeed!

Someone has said recently: "Time is quick, but life is slow". Or is it the other way around?

One might think that these intervening years with all their ups and downs and delays and detours would be enough to deter my intent to play this thread out. We shall soon see. Who knows? They might be the ravings of a madman after all. ;-) But, what a life's ride it has been--and continues to be!

Oh, my poor family and friends....

Stay tuned.