Tag Archive for: Responsibility


Armodoxy for Today: Opium

The words of Karl Marx are often quoted by people trying to discredit religion. “Religion is the opium of the masses (or people),” wrote Marx.

The first time I read this statement, I was a student in college, and, honestly, I was not offended. I was somewhat sympathetic to what Marx was saying because so many people lean upon religion to deal with their pain and suffering. But I also saw the power of a turn-to-God in the life of people. The opium is not in religion, as much as the false security that is granted by religion.

We each have different tolerance levels for pain. For some that pain can be alleviated by a couple of aspirin, Tylenol or Motrin, as their preference may be. These are temporary fixes, as the instruction label tells you on the pill bottles that if the pain persists beyond a time limit of (usually) two weeks, then consult with a physician. Of course, greater pain levels require more potent solutions and under the care of a physician, we have laws and rules as a society that allow for those drugs. Again, these are temporary fixes. Opium adds another dimension to pain relief in that it is habit-forming. Drug dependency no longer recognizes the drug for its medicinal value.

I believe this is why I was not upset or offended by Marx’s statement. In context, his entire statement reads, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.” There are people who become religion-dependent and the religion is no long recognized for its redeeming value.

Our journey through Armodoxy these few last weeks has taken us through a maze of mystery and supernatural phenomena, to making and understanding that within us, the supernatural can become natural and normal. Religion should not discount personal responsibility. Just the opposite, by demanding personal accountability for actions, it empowers the individual to take control of his/her life. The original gospel, that is the good news, was heralded at the Nativity and Revelation of Jesus Christ: Peace on Earth, Goodwill among all people. Pure and simple. Everything beyond this earthly life is in the domain of the Divine. The goal of religion, and most especially Christianity, is to make this life – the one we have been graced and gifted with – a better place, by teaching us to love, respect and forgive one another. This is why we pray, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that God give us the strength, patience and tools in this world. When religion loses its focus and pushes us to be consumed with end times, and qualifications for entering the afterlife, then it has lost its main direction, just as a drug which loses its function and becomes the substance of addiction.

The second time I came across Marx’s statement about religion was when I was a student in the seminary at Holy Etchmiadzin. The country of Armenia was occupied by communists and Marx, Engels, and Lenin were quoted on billboards and posterboards throughout the country. The communists tried to dissuade the Armenians from their religion. To the degree they succeeded, it was not on philosophical grounds, rather it was because of the number of churches they closed, their anti-church propaganda and the destruction of the priesthood.

Today, the words of Marx seem to be echoed beyond communists in various fields and environments. We spoke earlier about the prejudice, the pre-judgement of people toward Christianity. And so it is important to study and learn the early understanding of Christ’s message. This is Armenian Orthodoxy connected to today, or what we call Armodoxy. The more we learn about the ancient traditions as expressed through the Armenian Church, the easier we can debunk myths and understand Christianity not as an opium, but as salvific, a means of surviving and living in the world God has given us.

Let us pray, Psalm 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.

Cover photo: EnvatoElements


Armodoxy for Today: Location

Every good real estate agent can tell you that the number one rule in real estate is location, location, location. Repeating it three times emphasizes its importance. Identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to their location.. So choose location wisely when purchasing.

The same rule holds true in life with the exception that in life only one of the three locations is chosen by us, the client, while the other two are more of chance landings. We are all born into this world – into this life – without our consent. We have no choice as to when or where we are born. On the other end, we may feel we have more to say about our death, but often it takes place without our consent. The only location that we have control over is the third one, which is the life spent between birth and death.

This three location reality is best understood by glancing at a gravestones. Most of them have three symbols etched on them. The first is the person’s date of birth. We have no control over when or where we are born. The second location is the date of death. The third symbol is the dash that separates the date of birth from the date of death. That dash represents our lives and is the only section of life that is mostly in our control. Some dashes are short others are long, but the real quality of the dash is its thickness.

Life and how we live it is up to us. It is the dash – the life we live – that has meaning

Once a young seminarian in a monastery, in a display of youthful pride, decided to play a trick on the one of the oldest and wisest monks. He held a butterfly in his hand and brought his fingers together to cover the small insect. He asked the monk if the butterfly was dead or alive? He thought to himself, if the elderly man answers alive, I will crush the butterfly and prove him wrong. If he answers dead, I will open my fist and the butterfly will fly out. Either way the monk will be wrong and humiliated because the young student had shown him wrong.

Approaching the monk, the young man held the captive butterfly in his fist behind his back. “Old man, tell me, is the butterfly I am holding, dead or alive?” The old monk, not to be tricked replied, “The answer is in your hand.”

Maturity of Faith, which is the theme of this week, requires us to take responsibility for our lives, to recognize that God has entrusted us with our lives and it’s up to us to be part of the answer to, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” We are the ones who fatten the dash – the life between our birth and life – and we take the responsibility on whether the butterfly flies or is crushed.

Let us pray, Lord help me to understand your love through the trust you have put into our humble efforts.  tremendous trust you have in me and in humanity. Give me the strength to stand responsibly before you as I follow your commandments and do that which is pleasing in your sight. Amen.

Spiritual Coaster

Next Step #760: Solutions: Write a letter? Or move mountains? Take your pick of the solution and the means. Time to get a life and take on responsibility for life. Opting for spiritual power and choice at the end of the year. Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian, laid to rest: the funeral and burial.
Leveraging Love
The Parable of Archbishop Vatche – Next Step #759
Ian Anderson: A Week of Moments www.jethrotull.com
Cover Roller Coaster: Envato Elements
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for Epostle.net
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Next Step #673: Post Genocide-recognition- downshifting to use lower gears to go faster. Fr. Vazken talks about the importance of the genocide tag and some of the dangers of the designation. Comfort directed: Christian responsibility in the face of evil. Politics and the license to play with history. Philosophy, reason, God. First look at an old book: Tolstoy’s “My Religion”. Calculations for today: 4weekETB
In His Shoes Mission Statement 
Congressman Adam Schiff reads Pres. Biden’s Letter re: Genocide
Armenian Film Foundation
Survivors” by Don and Lorna Miller
Deitrich Bonhoeffer
Genocide Commemorative Concert
Leo Tolstoy, “My Religion”
We will not be erased
WD168 – this week: Post Genocide-Recognition
Ara Topouzian Stringed Tranquility
Cover photo: San Francisco Street downshifting
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Gender Revealing Revelation

Next Step #640: With the backdrop of the California wildfires and apocalyptic forecasts, Fr. Vazken gives a 2020 interpretation to the reality with a wake-up call to responsibility. Hear what the mysterious “Spyglass Lady” had to say to us today. A gender-revealing party ignites a fire and the questions that reveals so much more, including the seedless watermelon conundrum. The Feast of the Holy Cross: Finding the “Rays” of light and hope.
Zulal: Shogher Jan
Video: Beirut, You’re not alone
Middle East Council of Churches
Gender Reveal Party 
Exaltation of the Cross
Acts 2:22
Spyglass from Thoreau Museum
Cover: Blotting out the Sun, 2020 Fr. Vazken
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Box Cars

Next Step #628: Twelve years to the date of our first WEEKLY podcast: Recommitting to the ministry that brought us here. Cautions against the new fanaticism in the guise of religion – justifying hatred in the name of God. Warning: May induce vomiting. The usual scapegoats and how they’re being used this time to deflect personal responsibility. Coining the phrase “Happy Harry Syndrome” and simply expressed: iPhone+FB= The Electronic Fallacy. Reflections on celebrating anniversaries in the middle of world crisis and the pandemic. A tapestry that has been woven.
Vay Mayrik
Consecration of Dome Cross at Etchmiadzin
Flashback: Next Step #8a (China Olympics 2008)
Armodoxy YouTube Channel
Reflections, Etchmiadzin, The Archbishop’s Anniversary and a Carpet
Aunt Jemima brand is out 
Father’s Day Reflection (Joseph & Mary’s Son)
Thoughts on White Privilege
LGBTQ & DACA Supreme Court Decisions
Cover: Tempe Diner, 2012 Fr. Vazken
Technical Director: Ken Nalik
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Natural & Artificial Lenten Intelligence

Next Step #612: A first look at some natural intelligence that comes from the time of birth and is lost by the time we start practicing Lent. Lesson for Lent from my 3 month-old grandson. Enter artificial intelligence and deal with the latest in ethics and responsibility. The quest begins for the algorithms to contaminate AI with ethics. Not for the faint at heart or for the easily dizzied. Building a church and not finding a loan? Here are some secrets from the inner ranks.
Gor Mkhitarian – Oonaynutiun from the Spirit Album
Pontifical Academy: Artificial Intelligence
Vestments in the Armenian Church
WD168 – February 26, 2020
Lenten Journey by Fr. Vazken
Lenten “Bland” Page
40 Vegan Recipes (another bland page)
Reclaim Etchmiadzin – March 13-15, 2020
Order tickets to Reclaim Etchmiadzin www.embracing-faith.com
Cover: Bubble in Avalon, 2012 Fr. Vazken
Engineered by Ken Nalik
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Anthropocene: Spiritual Connections

Next Step #525: Whether you feed birds in your garden, fill up the dog dish with food or drive through the wind, you are touching the world in ways that were never imagined. Matthew 13 – the Parable of the Wheat and the weeds explained (compare: Goldilocks and the 3 Bears) to point to solutions in ourselves. Take this next step with Fr. Vazken toward relevancy – our influence and responsibility for our environment, our world and one another.
Horovel wiki
Anthropocene TED Radio
Wheat & Weeds
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Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for InHisShoes.org
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Post-Election Determinism

Next Step #440: The campaign is over, finally, and that’s about the only thing that is over. Beyond politics, some metaphysics in this post-election analysis a la Armodoxy. Connecting dots: Free Will & Determinism, Responsibility & the State, Trump & Hillary and a few more. New language: new ends for new means.
Little Willow” by Paul McCartney
Bradley Effect
Newsweek double Covers
In Memory of Harout – IHS Feed
Embracing Faith Conference
Election Results
Cover: Eaton Site 2016 by Fr. Vazken
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Inherit or Borrow: Obligation or Responsibility

Next Step #368:  Protests on the streets of Yerevan move this next step, as to spiritual/religious obligations and responsibilities to bring about change. Christ as the revolutionary, on the streets with humanity. ‪#‎ElectricYerevan‬
Photo – Water canons during Civil Rights protest (USA) and Yerevan Electric protest (Armenia)
Authentic Light Orchestra
Yerevan Electric Protest
1) http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-06-25/youth-protests-have-shaken-armenia-were-years-making
2) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/24/armenia-yerevan-protests-electric-prices-russia
3) http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/world/europe/armenias-electric-yerevan-protesters-return-to-streets-despite-arrests-and-water-blasts.html?_r=0
Anush’s Journey
Syrian Relief Message
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