The Sweet Smoke of Prayer

Let my prayer arise in Your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  Psalm 141 My parish has a fairly steady stream of visitors from outside the Orthodox experience. Among their first questions are ones concerning the use of incense. There is virtually no Orthodox service that does not … Read More ›

To Bear Our Sins

From time to time I post an excerpt from other writings – particularly when they seem to resonate with the conversation here on the blog. I saw this recently published on pravmir.com. I’ve corrected the English in a couple of places but otherwise left it as is. It is a small sermon from the late … Read More ›

The Invisible Shame

The young hobbit, Frodo, bears the terrible burden of carrying an evil ring to its destruction in Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. As he travels deeper into the darkness of Mordor, he is described as becoming “thinner” and is somehow “less visible.” The Ring itself has the power to make its wearer invisible – … Read More ›

Authority: Answers Without Questions

We imagine that life is made up of questions seeking answers. The opposite is also true: life is often made up of answers seeking questions. More troublesome than this are pseudo answers seeking questions, for the questions created by pseudo answers are inevitably pseudo questions. This, I suggest, goes far in describing the landscape of … Read More ›

The Bible and the Spirit of Democracy

My first introduction to ancient writings was in my Classical Greek classes my freshman year of college. Most of those were tortuous exercises filled with the rules of a foreign grammar. My friends laughed at how hard and long I labored in those studies. With time, however, the work began to yield pleasure as the … Read More ›

The Grammar of the Faith

Recent studies have documented the fact that we begin to acquire language from our earliest moments. Even the babbling of infants plays a role. Sounds, words, facial expressions – all have a part in perhaps the most complex of all human activities. As we learn to speak, we not only learn words and sounds, but … Read More ›

The Church and the Scriptures

My recent articles on the place of the Scriptures, their relationship with the Church, and the proper manner it which they are to be regarded have drawn more than a little comment (and some fire) including on other blogsites. In this article I want to take time to answer some specific points and to add some further … Read More ›

Grace and the Handbasket

A difficulty arises when making cultural observations – things rarely turn out as expected. The Roman Empire fell once upon a time, although the fall wasn’t nearly as clean and final as Gibbons imagined and it wasn’t really the Roman Empire that fell. But ever since the “Roman Empire fell” people have been rehearsing the lessons … Read More ›

Has Your Bible Become A Quran?

Those who engage in debates on a regular basis know that the argument itself can easily shape the points involved. This is another way of saying that some debates should be avoided entirely since merely getting involved in them can be the road to ruin. There are a number of Christian scholars (particularly among the Orthodox) … Read More ›

There Is No “Bible” in the Bible

There are certain ideas that, once introduced, tend to change how people think of everything else. This is certainly the case with the Bible. For of all the ideas about the Scripture, the most recent is the notion of “the Bible.” The word “Bible” simply means “book.” Thus, it is a name that means “the … Read More ›

Singing the Lord’s Song

In my first parish as an Anglican priest, I approached my first Midnight Mass with eager anticipation. I was trained “High Church,” with a very traditional liturgical emphasis – but I was serving in a “Low Church” parish. I was the first priest in their history to wear Eucharistic vestments as a normal practice. But … Read More ›