Superstition and the Material God

People gather at the end of Church for a “travel blessing.” A priest chants a prayer and sprinkles water over them with a brush. They cross themselves and have some sense that their travels will now be better. Many modern people watching this procedure would describe the process as “superstitious.” It appears to them that … Read More ›

The Disenchanted World

A very apt word for the world we live in is: disenchanted. It was first used by Max Weber and a number of others to describe a certain aspect of the modern world – the absence of the sacred. Where people of earlier eras and other cultures have experienced the world around them as charged … Read More ›

The Problem with Going to Heaven

“That man might become God…”  On its surface this statement simply sounds blasphemous. Interpreted in a wrong manner, it would  be worse than blasphemous. When read correctly, however, it is the very essence of salvation itself. “To go to heaven…” from my childhood this phrase has been used as the goal of a Christian life. But, … Read More ›

Sex and the Moral Imagination

As the day draws near for the US Supreme Court to insist on nationwide approval for gay marriage, a watershed in modern thought has been reached. For although the Supreme Court is not the arbiter of morality, its decisions generally signal a deep level of cultural acceptance. Of course, in American practice, the court represents … Read More ›

Boundaries, Borders and the True God

Years ago, as a young seminarian, I wanted to paint icons. I knew nothing about icons, only that I liked them and that they were holy. The vast wealth of books and materials on their meaning and even on the technique of painting them simply did not exist. My knowledge of painting was also non-existent. … Read More ›

The Unmoral Christian Revisited

My article, The Un-moral Christian, along with You’re Not Getting Better, have continued to generate conversation around the internet, and within parishes. At least that’s the impression I get from numerous conversations, emails, social media, and even phone calls. Most of those conversations seem to be serious and are engaging the question of how Orthodox … Read More ›

The Doors and God

You cannot attend an Orthodox service and not be aware of doors. There are the doors that form the center of the icon screen, opening directly upon the altar. There are the two doors that flank them, one on either side, known as the “Deacon Doors.” Someone always seems to be coming out of one … Read More ›

Messiness in the Modern World

Salvation can be messy. I believe this with all my heart and so I state it at the outset of this article. As such, it marks me as a heretic in Modernity. I not only believe that salvation is messy – I believe that messiness is pretty much inherent to salvation. And along with that, … Read More ›

Abraham at the End of the World

This is an exercise in the Orthodox reading of the Scriptures. My thoughts frequently return to this story and this line of thought. This article is greatly expanded from an earlier version. The habits of modern Christians run towards history: it is a lens through which we see the world. We see a world of cause … Read More ›

The Problem of Goodness

Though many struggle with the so-called “Problem of Evil,” the greater moral problem is that of goodness. How do we account for goodness in the world – particularly self-sacrificing heroic goodness? It is not uncommon for a person in a dangerous situation to place their own life at risk in order to save the life … Read More ›

Theophany and the Gates of Hades

For an Orthodox priest, the services of the Church involve many “comings and goings.” Part of any service takes place within the altar area, which is usually enclosed by an iconostasis, a wall on which icons are hung. The wall does not truly separate one area of the Church from another so much as it … Read More ›