Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 1 No. 36 October 27, 2011

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
A church in Thiruvalla incorporating Hindu Temple architecture and Islam Mosque architecture.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note
This Sunday is the first day of the liturgical calendar for the Holy Church. The church begins by cleaning up things to prepare for the incarnation of God and then the eventual death and triumph of resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were disappointed when they heard Jesus saying to them in today's Gospel reading that to be a disciple, they must take up a cross and follow him, even face a death for His sake.

Saint John Chrysostom expands on this in the meditation, 'Life to Me Means Christ, and Death is Gain:' "The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it."

We present a recent speech given by Pope Benedict XVI in Germany titled 'It is Time For the Church To Set Aside Her Worldliness' that expands on this concept of change we need to undergo to become a disciple of God. The pope said:

"Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked what in her opinion was the first thing that would have to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I.

Two things are clear from this brief story. On the one hand Mother Teresa wants to tell her interviewer: the Church is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptized. And on the other hand her starting-point is this: yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change."

We are the instruments that are used by God to cleanse His Body, the church. For this we need to present ourselves to him in a spirit of service, servant leadership and total surrender. Please read the article and implement the ideas in our lives if we want God to use us as agents of change.

This week we present lesson 10 from Murray's Book on Prayer. The lesson is entitled, 'Prayer must be Definite.' A companion article tells us about 'Unforgiveness and Unanswered Prayer.' This may give us yet another clue when we are faced with unanswered prayers. Do you follow the command Jesus gave: "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?"

We are all faced with global recession that has affected those in the west more than in India. So, the two articles, 'Why Young Americans Can't Think Morally' and 'America Needs a Father' give us more thoughts for introspection.

Enjoy the rest of the articles and features in this week's issue of MW Journal.

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (Oct 30)

Koodhosh Eetho (Sanctification) Sunday

The Sunday that comes on or after October 30th is called Koodhosh Eetho (Sanctification of Church) Sunday. It is the beginning of the church calendar.

  • Evening
    • St. Mark 8: 27 -33
  • Morning
    • St. John 21: 15 - 22
  • Before Holy Qurbana
    • Exodus 33:7-11
    • Exodus 40 : 17-38
    • Isaiah 6: 1 - 8
  • Holy Qurbana
    • I Peter 2:1-12
    • I Corinthians 3: 16-17, 6: 15 -20
    • St. Mark 8:27-33

Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermons for This Sunday (Oct 30)
This week's Gospel reading builds upon last week's reading about the cost of discipleship. If you recall, last week, Jesus told the young ruler to sell everything he had and then to come and follow him to inherit the eternal life. The ruler had too much material possessions that limited him from accepting Jesus' offer. This week's Gospel, delivered on Koodosh eetho Sunday, the day for the sanctification of church, ask us to examine our hearts first. Who do we think Jesus is? Do we accept him as the Son of God, the Messiah, the second person of the Trinity? That is the question Jesus is asking today.

However, Jesus is telling us that, just because we accept Jesus as our savior, it is not going to be an easy road for us. Peter and the other disciples thought so too; but they were very disappointed. Jesus tells them and us that being a disciple means that we will be tested and we will face trials and tribulations in life. It is not going to be a bed of roses. It was a day of extreme emotional up and down for Peter.

Daniel B. Clendenin, in 'The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself' talked about Peter's predicament this way:

"After Peter confessed that he was the Christ, Jesus began to predict his death, much to the shock of his disciples who longed for a savior who would vanquish the Romans: 'He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again' (Mark 8:31). Resurrection would triumph, but not before suffering, rejection and death. The disciples, who so often in the Gospels misunderstood Jesus and were afraid to ask him questions, got the message loud and clear, for Jesus 'spoke plainly about this.' So plainly that Peter rebuked Jesus. 'This can never happen to you,' he objected. In perhaps the sharpest rebuke in all of the Gospels Jesus characterized Peter’s agenda as satanic.

A second shock followed when Jesus insisted that this pattern of self-denying suffering was incumbent upon anyone who wanted to follow him. After predicting his own suffering, rejection, and death to the disciples, he spoke to the crowd: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it' (Mark 8:34–35). God’s grace is free, but it is not cheap, for it demands everything. This is a high price to pay, Jesus admits, and the risk-reward logic should pierce your heart: 'What good is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a person give in exchange for his soul?' (Mark 8:36–37)."

The Rev. Dr. Debra Samuelson from Minneapolis, MN explains the Peter's dilemma this way. Peter wants a strong God; but Jesus gives him cross, instead:

"No wonder Peter rebukes him. This sounds like blasphemy. The savior of the world, suffer? God's messiah, die? Are you mad?

Peter, you see, wants and needs a strong God. Like so many of his day, he's looking for a descendant of mighty king David to come and overthrow Roman rule and restore Israel to it's rightful place among the nations. Jesus has to be that person. After all, he's already brought relief, comfort, healing, and life. So what's all this talk about suffering and death?

Peter wants a strong God...and who can blame him. Are we any different? When the crushing weight of hardship bears down upon us, when the voices of despair drown out all others, when it's one disappointment after another, don't we also want a strong God to avenge our hurts, to right all wrongs, and to put us back on top of things?

Except...except that it's precisely when I'm down and out, when life's setbacks and disappointments have conspired to make me feel like I'm nothing, that I wonder what a God of might, strength, and justice--the God of winners, that is--has to say to me, an ordinary schmuck and everyday Joe, who often feels far closer to defeat than to victory.

I think this is what Jesus means in his rebuke to Peter by contrasting divine things and earthly ones. By our human reckoning strength is everything, might makes right, and the one who dies with the most toys wins. But God employs a different calculus and measures strength not in terms of might but of love, not by victory but vulnerability, not in possessions but in sacrifice, not by glory but by the cross."

Dr. Samuelson says that when faced with overwhelming odds -- or just with our own limitations, those who take up their cross and follow Jesus do not loose heart because we know that there is as Sister Ann said:

"a power beyond --

a power beyond the cross --

a power beyond our sin --

a power beyond our limitations, our helplessness our weakness.

It is the power of God to bring life from death, to bring healing from disease, to bring wholeness from our brokenness.

We take up our cross when we embrace our sinful selves, accept our limitations and follow Christ beyond them."

The Rev. Dr. David Lose, the Marbury E. Anderson Chair in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN, provides us this powerful perspective:

"So it will also be with us, as we recognize that the God we worship comes not for the victorious but for the vanquished and seeks out not the mighty but the down trodden. Our God comes, as Scripture bear witness, to feed the hungry, to heal the lame, to free the bound and to bind up the broken-heartened. Our God comes, that is, for us.

And so we pray: Come, Lord Jesus, break open our hearts that we might perceive your profound love for us and all people and receive your mercy and grace. Amen."

Malankara World provides several commentaries, homilies and sermons that look at different sides of this week's scripture reading. You can find them here:

Sermons for Koodosh Eetho Sunday

More Sermons

This Week's Features

Inspiration for Today: Life to Me Means Christ, and Death is Gain

Life to Me Means Christ, and Death is Gain

by Saint John Chrysostom

The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.

Do you not hear the Lord saying: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst? Will he be absent, then, when so many people united in love are gathered together? I have his promise; I am surely not going to rely on my own strength! I have what he has written; that is my staff, my security, my peaceful harbor. Let the world be in upheaval. I hold to his promise and read his message; that is my protecting wall and garrison. What message? Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!

If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear? Though the waves and the sea and the anger of princes are roused against me, they are less to me than a spider's web. Indeed, unless you, my brothers, had detained me, I would have left this very day. For I always say Lord, your will be done; not what this fellow or that would have me do, but what you want me to do. That is my strong tower, my immovable rock, my staff that never gives way. If God wants something, let it be done! If he wants me to stay here, I am grateful. But wherever he wants me to be, I am no less grateful.

Yet where I am, there you are too, and where you are, I am. For we are a single body, and the body cannot be separated from the head nor the head from the body. Distance separates us, but love unites us, and death itself cannot divide us. For though my body die, my soul will live and be mindful of my people.

You are my fellow citizens, my fathers, my brothers, my sons, my limbs, my body. You are my light, sweeter to me than the visible light. For what can the rays of the sun bestow on me that is comparable to your love? The sun's light is useful in my earthly life, but your love is fashioning a crown for me in the life to come.

Featured This Week: It is Time For the Church To Set Aside Her Worldliness

by Pope Benedict XVI

For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change? Must she not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today?

Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked what in her opinion was the first thing that would have to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I.

Two things are clear from this brief story. On the one hand Mother Teresa wants to tell her interviewer: the Church is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptized. And on the other hand her starting-point is this: yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change.

What should this change look like in practice? Are we talking about the kind of renewal that a householder might carry out when reordering or repainting his home? Or are we talking about a corrective, designed to bring us back on course and help us to make our way more swiftly and more directly? Certainly these and other elements play a part. As far as the Church in concerned, though, the basic motive for change is the apostolic mission of the disciples and the Church herself.

The Church, in other words, must constantly re-dedicate herself to her mission. The three Synoptic Gospels highlight various aspects of the missionary task. The mission is built upon personal experience: "You are witnesses" (Lk 24:48); it finds expression in relationships: "Make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19); and it spreads a universal message: "Preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). Through the demands and constraints of the world, however, the witness is constantly obscured, the relationships are alienated and the message is relativized. If the Church, in Pope Paul VI’s words, is now struggling "to model itself on Christ's ideal", this "can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence" (Ecclesiam Suam, 58). In order to accomplish her mission, she will constantly set herself apart from her surroundings, she needs in a certain sense to become unworldly or "desecularized".

The Church’s mission has its origins in the mystery of the triune God, in the mystery of his creative love. Love is not just somehow within God, he himself is love by nature. And divine love does not want to exist in isolation, it wants to pour itself out. It has come down to men in a particular way through the incarnation and self-offering of God’s Son. He stepped outside the framework of his divinity, he took flesh and became man; and indeed his purpose was not merely to confirm the world in its worldliness and to be its companion, leaving it completely unchanged.

The Christ event includes the inconceivable fact of what the Church Fathers call a commercium, an exchange between God and man, in which the two parties – albeit in quite different ways – both give and take, bestow and receive. The Christian faith recognizes that God has given man a freedom in which he can truly be a partner to God, and can enter into exchange with him. At the same time it is clear to man that this exchange is only possible thanks to God’s magnanimity in accepting the beggar’s poverty as wealth, so as to make the divine gift acceptable, given that man has nothing of comparable worth to offer in return.

The Church likewise owes her whole being to this unequal exchange. She has nothing of her own to offer to him who founded her. She finds her meaning exclusively in being a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God’s word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God. The Church is fully immersed in the Redeemer’s outreach to men. She herself is always on the move, she constantly has to place herself at the service of the mission that she has received from the Lord. The Church must always open up afresh to the cares of the world and give herself over to them, in order to make present and continue the holy exchange that began with the Incarnation.

In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness.

In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from the "worldliness" of the world. In this she follows the words of Jesus: "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (Jn 17:16). One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.

Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty.

In this the Church has shared the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs. At those moments in history, the Church shared with that tribe the demands of a poverty that was open to the world, in order to be released from her material ties: and in this way her missionary activity regained credibility.

History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbor. The missionary task, which is linked to Christian worship and should determine its structure, becomes more clearly visible.

The Church opens herself to the world not in order to win men for an institution with its own claims to power, but in order to lead them to themselves by leading them to him of whom each person can say with Saint Augustine: he is closer to me than I am to myself (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11). He who is infinitely above me is yet so deeply within me that he is my true interiority. This form of openness to the world on the Church’s part also serves to indicate how the individual Christian can be open to the world in effective and appropriate ways.

It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit.

To put it another way: for people of every era, not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. That the eternal God should know us and care about us, that the intangible should at a particular moment have become tangible, that he who is immortal should have suffered and died on the Cross, that we who are mortal should be given the promise of resurrection and eternal life – to believe all this is to posit something truly remarkable.

This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals take the place of the primary skandalon of the Cross and in so doing they put it beyond reach, concealing the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it.

All the more, then, it is time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness. That does not mean withdrawing from the world. A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers. "For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas Est, 25). At the same time, though, the Church’s charitable activity also needs to be constantly exposed to the demands of due detachment from worldliness, if it is not to wither away at the roots in the face of increasing erosion of its ecclesial character. Only a profound relationship with God makes it possible to reach out fully towards others, just as a lack of outreach towards neighbor impoverishes one’s relationship with God.

Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God’s love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now, a task which at the same time points beyond the present world because this present life is also bound up with eternal life. As individuals and as the community of the Church, let us live the simplicity of a great love, which is both the simplest and hardest thing on earth, because it demands no more and no less than the gift of oneself.

Dear friends, it remains for me to invoke God’s blessing and the strength of the Holy Spirit upon us all, that we may continually recognize anew and bear fresh witness to God’s love and mercy in our respective fields of activity. Thank you for your attention.

Source: Message delivered in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany on September 25, 2011

Book: 'With Christ In the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray

Lesson 10: Prayer must be Definite
[Editor's Note: Here is this week's lesson from the book, 'With Christ in the School of Prayer' by Andrew Murray. This book is a very important reference book on intercessional prayer, something Orthodox Church believes in greatly. Murray skillfully describes the role of the Holy Spirit within the church and exhorts Christians to use the blessings God has given us. This book is a guide to living a life as a temple of the Holy Spirit. If you have missed the earlier lessons, please read them in Malankara World.]

Tenth Lesson: 'What wilt thou?' Or Prayer must be Definite

"And Jesus answered him, and said, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" - Mark 10:51; Luke 18:41

Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to His mercy, an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of definite need.

The blind man had been crying out aloud, and that a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. The cry had reached the ear of the Lord; He knew what he wanted, and was ready to grant it him. But ere He does it, He asks him: What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? He wants to hear from his own lips, not only the general petition for mercy, but the distinct expression of what his desire was. Until he speaks it out, he is not healed.

There is now still many a suppliant to whom the Lord puts the same question, and who cannot, until it has been answered, get the aid he ask. Our prayers must not be a vague appeal to His mercy, an indefinite cry for blessing, but the distinct expression of definite need. Not that His loving heart does not understand our cry, or is not ready to hear. But He desires it for our own sakes.

It demands time, and thought, and self-scrutiny to find out what really is our greatest need.

Such definite prayer teaches us to know our own needs better. It demands time, and thought, and self-scrutiny to find out what really is our greatest need. It searches us and puts us to the test as to whether our desires are honest and real, such as we are ready to persevere in. It leads us to judge whether our desires are according to God's Word, and whether we really believe that we shall receive the things we ask. It helps us to wait for the special answer, and to mark it when it comes.

And yet how much of our prayer is vague and pointless. Some cry for mercy, but take not the trouble to know what mercy must do for them. Others ask, perhaps, to be delivered from sin, but do not begin by bringing any sin by name from which the deliverance may be claimed. Still others pray for God's blessing on those around them, for the outpouring of God's Spirit on their land or the world, and yet have no special field where they wait and expect to see the answer. To all the Lord says: And what is it now you really want and expect Me to do?

...trained troops were repulsed by the Transvaal Boers at Majuba. And to what did they owe their success?

Every Christian has but limited powers, and as he must have his own special field of labour in which he works, so with his prayers too. Each believer has his own circle, his family, his friends, his neighbours. If he were to take one or more of these by name, he would find that this really brings him into the training-school of faith, and leads to personal and pointed dealing with his God. It is when in such distinct matters we have in faith claimed and received answers, that our more general prayers will be believing and effectual.

We all know with what surprise the whole civilized world heard of the way in which trained troops were repulsed by the Transvaal Boers at Majuba. And to what did they owe their success? In the armies of Europe the soldier fires upon the enemy standing in large masses, and never thinks of seeking an aim for every bullet. In hunting game the Boer had learnt a different lesson: his practiced eye knew to send every bullet on its special message, to seek and find its man. Such aiming must gain the day in the spiritual world too.

...the Saviour would undoubtedly answer What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?

As long as in prayer we just pour out our hearts in a multitude of petitions, without taking time to see whether every petition is sent with the purpose and expectation of getting an answer, not many will reach the mark. But if, as in silence of soul we bow before the Lord, we were to ask such questions as these: What is now really my desire? do I desire it in faith, expecting to receive? am I now ready to place and leave it in the Father s bosom? is it a settled thing between God and me that I am to have the answer? we should learn so to pray that God would see and we would know what we really expect.

It is for this, among other reasons, that the Lord warns us against the vain repetitions of the Gentiles, who think to be heard for their much praying. We often hear prayers of great earnestness and fervour, in which a multitude of petitions are poured forth, but to which the Saviour would undoubtedly answer What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?

Read the rest of the lesson in Malankara World

Read the previous lessons in Prayer:

Unforgiveness and Unanswered Prayer

by Greg Laurie

"And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses." — Mark 11:25–26

Prayer is a wonderful privilege. We can pray anytime or anywhere. Daniel prayed in a cave filled with hungry lions. The apostle Paul prayed when he was in a dungeon in chains. Peter prayed on the surface of the water. And Jonah prayed under the water. So wherever you are, you can pray.

But maybe you have you been praying about something for a long time, and nothing has happened. Maybe it is a legitimate request—you are asking God for His wisdom or provision—yet it seems your prayer is going unanswered.

Here is my question to you: Are you harboring unforgiveness in your heart right now? Let me say it another way: Are you nursing a grudge against someone? Every time you see that person, do you begin to boil with anger and feel your blood pressure rising? You may say, "Well, you need to understand. That person has wronged me."

We all have been wronged in life. We all have been hurt in life. We all have been mistreated in life. We cannot control the universe, as hard as we try. But what we can do is choose how we will react when injustice comes our way in life.

Jesus said, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."

Forgiven people should be forgiving people. So it is time to bury the hatchet (but not in that person’s back) and forgive. Remember, when you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free: yourself.

Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.

Why Young Americans Can't Think Morally
(Moral standards have been replaced by feelings)

by Dennis Prager

Last month, David Brooks of the New York Times wrote a column on an academic study concerning the nearly complete lack of a moral vocabulary among most American young people. Here are excerpts from Brooks' summary of the study of Americans aged 18 to 23. It was led by "the eminent Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith":

  • "Smith and company asked about the young people's moral lives, and the results are depressing."

  • "When asked to describe a moral dilemma they had faced, two-thirds of the young people either couldn't answer the question or described problems that are not moral at all."

  • "Moral thinking didn't enter the picture, even when considering things like drunken driving, cheating in school or cheating on a partner."

  • "The default position, which most of them came back to again and again, is that moral choices are just a matter of individual taste."

  • "As one put it, 'I mean, I guess what makes something right is how I feel about it. But different people feel different ways, so I couldn't speak on behalf of anyone else as to what's right and wrong.'"

  • "Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it's thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart."

Ever since I attended college I have been convinced that "studies" either confirm what common sense suggests or they are mistaken. I realized this when I was presented study after study showing that boys and girls were not inherently different from one another, and they acted differently only because of sexist upbringings.

This latest study cited by David Brooks confirms what conservatives have known for a generation: Moral standards have been replaced by feelings. Of course, those on the left only believe this when an "eminent sociologist" is cited by a writer at a major liberal newspaper.

What is disconcerting about Brooks' piece is that nowhere, in what is an important column, does he mention the reason for this disturbing trend: namely, secularism.

The intellectual class and the Left still believe that secularism is an unalloyed blessing. They are wrong. Secularism is good for government. But it is terrible for society (though still preferable to bad religion) and for the individual.

One key reason is what secularism does to moral standards. If moral standards are not rooted in God, they do not objectively exist. Good and evil are no more real than "yummy" and "yucky." They are simply a matter of personal preference. One of the foremost liberal philosophers, Richard Rorty, an atheist, acknowledged that for the secular liberal, "There is no answer to the question, 'Why not be cruel?'"

With the death of Judeo-Christian God-based standards, people have simply substituted feelings for those standards. Millions of American young people have been raised by parents and schools with "How do you feel about it?" as the only guide to what they ought to do. The heart has replaced God and the Bible as a moral guide. And now, as Brooks points out, we see the results. A vast number of American young people do not even ask whether an action is right or wrong. The question would strike them as foreign. Why? Because the question suggests that there is a right and wrong outside of themselves. And just as there is no God higher than them, there is no morality higher than them, either.

Forty years ago, I began writing and lecturing about this problem. It was then that I began asking students if they would save their dog or a stranger first if both were drowning. The majority always voted against the stranger - because, they explained, they loved their dog and they didn't love the stranger.

They followed their feelings.

Without God and Judeo-Christian religions, what else is there?

Editor's Note: Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. Source: National Review

America Needs a Father

By Eric Retzlaff

Of all the troubles that afflict America and the world, one of the greatest is a deep, often unfulfilled yearning for a father.

To be human is to be insecure. The struggles of everyday life prove it, from ordinary annoyances to the gnawing ache caused by profound hurts.

In the best of all worlds, the word "father" means protector, provider, just but merciful leader, moral guide, educator, confidant and wise counselor, a secure passage to adulthood. Think of a toddler sleeping on his father's shoulder.

Even the best fathers will in some way disappoint us -- and that's not counting the self-absorbed, abusive and absentee fathers. We, as fathers, are also bound to disappoint, despite our best intentions. To be human is to be incomplete and flawed. Wounded and wounding, we can't be father to ourselves.

"Fatherlessness is the most harmful demographic trend of this generation," writes David Blankenhorn in his 1995 book, "Fatherless America." Even then, as he noted, 40 percent of children went to bed without their father living with them.

Fatherlessness "is the leading cause of declining child well-being in our society," the author wrote. "It is the engine driving our most urgent social problems, from crime to adolescent pregnancy to child abuse to domestic violence against women."

If personal fatherlessness weren't bad enough, I believe we as a people are feeling fatherless. Our faith in the father figures of our society is often shaky. Our economy is tottering. We are uncertain about our nation's future.

We have put our trust -- often naively -- in government to provide for us, to make us safe from anything bad. Politicians oblige: They run us deeper in debt, mortgage our future, write laws to protect us from bad things.

Bad things keep happening so fast that regulations can't be written quickly enough to keep up. But if we continue to pile up laws to cover every possible danger, won't we wake up one day in a gulag?

"Bad news makes good press" is an old dictum in the news business, and we get plenty of bad news. Sex scandals, poor performance and swindles besmirch so many in public life. There's a chorus of voices offering conflicting solutions. Who or what can one trust?

Many of us have worked hard for employers, enduring stress and extra hours, sometimes at the expense of family life -- and then have been let go. We realize that employment is just an economic arrangement, but we still feel like jilted lovers -- and we're jobless.

Sometimes the nexus of personal and societal anguish can be so great that we can suffer deep down what American novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote about: "America has a thousand lights and weathers, and we walk, we walk the streets, we walk the streets of life alone."

Mircea Eliade, a historian and student of religion, noted that in primitive polytheistic religions, the father god, the creator, often faded into the background before lesser gods that were supplicated to meet practical, everyday needs. But when the community was in peril, it again beseeched the father.

False fathers may arise when a nation is in great distress -- such as Germany's Adolf Hitler and Russia's Vladimir Lenin and his successor, Joseph Stalin -- causing millions to perish.

I am convinced that our nation's present sorrows will lift when we learn from Jesus' parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), a story about God, us and forgiveness. The prodigal son returned home broken in spirit, having looked for happiness in all the wrong places. He was now willing to be a mere servant in his father's house.

You can imagine how he felt when this happened: "But while he [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

"The father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"

(Mr. Retzlaff is a former journalist and publicist from Schenectady, NY.)

Health Tip: Cold and Flu Prevention and Self-Care
[Editor's Note: Advent of Fall and Winter seasons means the advent of the Cold/Flu seasons too. Every year, millions of people world-wide get sick with the flu (influenza) and cold. For most of us, the fever, exhaustion, and aches and pains of the flu can be debilitating for a week or two, but for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems the flu can be much more serious.

An estimated 100,000 hospitalizations and about 20,000 deaths occur each year from the flu or its complications in the US alone. On top of that, an average American adult suffers two to three colds a year; the average young child has as many as nine. That adds up to something like one billion colds a year in US alone! The cost to the world economy from the common cold and flu is staggering.

There are few common sense things you can do to minimize your chance of getting or spreading colds and flu. Read on.]

The common cold and the flu (influenza) are contagious respiratory infections that affect millions annually. Adults tend to get sick with a cold 2-4 times a year. Children, especially preschoolers, may catch a cold up to 10 times annually. Colds are most common between September and May.

People generally get the flu far less often than colds. Most flu sufferers get better within a week or two, but complications from the flu can lead to serious health problems, even death. The peak flu season is usually from December to March.

Use this guide to learn how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu, and how to prevent and treat both illnesses.


Wash hands often.

Keep kitchens, bathrooms and toys clean.

Don’t share items for drinking or eating.

Avoid contact with anyone who has a cold or the flu.

Avoid crowds during the peak flu season.

Drink plenty of water to help your immune system work better.

Keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth and nose.

Get enough sleep, exercise and nutritious foods daily.

Keep stress under control.

Get a flu shot each fall to help prevent or lessen symptoms of the flu.


Drink plenty of fluids.

Increase rest and sleep.

Stay warm and use a humidifier to moisten the air.

Soothe sore throats by gargling with warm salt water or drinking warm water with lemon and honey.

Relieve nasal congestion with nasal drops.

Try chicken soup to break up congestion.

Avoid tobacco and alcohol.

Use over-the-counter cold preparations, and pain, sore throat and fever medications with caution. Never give aspirin to children or teens, nor decongestant to children under age 2.

Seek Medical Advice If….

you have difficulty breathing,

you feel faint,

your sore throat is severe,

you have a cough that produces a lot of phlegm (especially if colored green or yellow),

your fever is 102°F or higher with a cold or 104°F or higher with the flu,

your symptoms last for more than 10 days,

you have a fever with shaking chills,

you have a sharp chest pain when you breathe deeply or cough,

you suffer from a condition that puts you at risk for getting a severe case of the flu or suffering from complications of the flu.


Read and Learn more about Cold and Flu in cold and Flu Infocenter

Read more health tips in Malankara World Health Section

Cafe - Recipe: Pumpkin Granola Bars
[Editor's Note: October and November in North America means an avalanche of pumpkins. After next week, people throw away lot of pumpkins. How about using them to make a delicious snack? If you are diabetic, cut down on the honey and molasses from the recipe. Add some stevia if you have access to it instead.]


3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped peanuts, walnuts, or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 Tbs grated orange rind


Blend the pumpkin, egg, butter, honey, and molasses in a mixing bowl or food processor.

Add the oats, nuts, coconut, wheat germ, cinnamon, and orange rind, and mix well.

Spread this mixture into a lightly greased 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pan.

Bake in a 350 deg F (175 deg C) oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.

While still warm, cut into 3-by-1 1/2-inch bars.

For very crisp bars, remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

Yield: about 30 bars.

More Recipes/ Cooking Tips at Malankara World Cafe

Humor: Cajun Confession
Boudreaux was feeling guilty, so he went to confession.

"Father, I kinda took a little lumber from that new construction site."

Priest: "What did you do with the lumber, my son?"

Boudreaux: "Well, Father, my porch, she's had a hole for a long time. I'm 'fraid someone will break their leg, so I fix the hole."

Priest: "Well, that's not so bad."

Boudreaux: "Well, Father, I had a little lumber left."

Priest: "What did you do with it?"

Boudreaux: "Well, my poor dog, Phideaux, he ain't never had no place to get outta the weather, so I make him his own little doghouse."

Priest: "OK, anything else?"

Boudreaux: "Well, Father, I had a little lumber left. So you know, my truck, she ain't never had no place to get outta de weather either, so I make her a two car garage."

Priest: "Now, this is getting a little out of hand."

Boudreaux: "Well, Father, I still had a little lumber left."

Priest: "Yes?"

Boudreaux: "Well, my wife, she always want a bigger house. So I add two bedrooms and a new bathroom."

Priest: "OK! That's definitely too much. For your penance, you are going to have to make a Novena. You do know how to make a Novena, don't you?"

Boudreaux: "No, Father... But, if you got the plans, I got the lumber."

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara diospora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser:

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here:

You can contact us via email at

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

You can contact us via email at

Thank you for your help and support.

Malankara World Team

Malankara World Journal is published by
Copyright © 2011 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.