Harlots and Drunkards at the Last Banquet

Since we were thinking about Dostoevsky… Once a week I teach a class at a local alcohol and drug treatment program. It is on the “spirituality of recovery.” Recently I shared Marmaladov’s speech from Crime and Punishment (at the end of this article). There were tears in the room. For many, the version of the gospel they … Read More ›

The Marriage of Love and Hate

The genius of Dostoevsky lies in the profound theological insight of his tumbled novels. They can be difficult reads for many people – particularly in our modern setting. He has “too many characters” and they “talk a lot.” His characters are complex: I was a scoundrel, and yet, I loved God…  Good and evil are … Read More ›

The Demons of our Time

In 1872, Dostoevsky published his novel, The Demons [Бесы]. It demonstrated in a microcosm, the insanity that lay within the revolutionary movements of 19th century Russia. That insanity broke upon the world in 1917 and has remained present with us, in one form or another, ever since. The madness that he describes takes place in … Read More ›

Beauty and the Face of God

Everything is beautiful in a person when he turns toward God, and everything is ugly when it is turned away from God. Fr. Pavel Florensky +++ As I am preparing for next weekend’s interview on A Crisis of Beauty, I am digging back through my writings on the topic. In Orthodoxy, all truth is one … Read More ›

An Unnecessary Existence

In Dostoevsky’s The Demons, the character, Kirillov, is insanely fascinated with freedom. He cannot bear the fact that he did not choose his own existence. Life is a “given.” In what must be seen as a parable of the radical thought of the 19th century, Kirillov determines to kill himself, the only act of true … Read More ›

Harlots and Drunkards at the Last Banquet

Once a week I teach a class at a local alcohol and drug treatment program. It is on the “spirituality of recovery.” Recently I shared Marmaladov’s speech from Crime and Punishment (at the end of this article). There were tears in the room. For many, the version of the gospel they have heard only condemns. … Read More ›

From Mud to Light – the Saving Work of Christ

Man is mud whom God has commanded to become god. – St. Gregory of Nyssa +++ How do you create a God? How do you create a being that has true freedom, true love and thus, true existence? This is obviously not an entirely rational question – but it is a serious question for Christian thought. … Read More ›

Notes from the Underground

I have recently been reading in a classic work, Nicholas Berdyaev’s Dostoevsky. Berdyaev was a twentieth-century Russian philosopher (existentialist) and deeply sympathetic to Dostoevsky’s works. I find some of his treatment to be tremendously satisfying and “on the mark.” I offer an extended quote and some thoughts… Berdyaev quotes from Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground: … Read More ›

Forgive Everyone for Everything

In Dostoevsky’s great last work, The Brothers Karamazov, the story is told of Markel, brother of the Elder Zossima. Diagnosed with tuberculosis, he is dying. In those last days he came to a renewed faith in God and a truly profound understanding of forgiveness. In a conversation with his mother she wonders how he can … Read More ›

More on the "Justice" of God

I will add an additional thought (related to the previous article) on the future “justice” of God. There are many who imagine theologically that at some later point, a final judgment, God’s justice will be manifest. In this manifestation of justice, the punishments of hell figure prominently. Of course, this is simply poor theology. Eternity … Read More ›

Personal Issues

The title of this post is quite misleading – for in proper theological language – there are no “personal issues.” Our culture is quite fond of issues – both the politico-entertainment industry – and many individuals. It is a word and a phenomenon that has been baptized by the culture such that “being concerned with … Read More ›