Saint Olga, Creative Wells, and Plans for the Future

When I started this blog a few months back, I intended it primarily as a useful and interesting way to prepare for my lecture at AFCon 2019. Well, it was that and more. Thank you to all of you who have left comments and sent me emails before and after AFCon. As I thought, the idea of culture creation is something that many of you feel is significant, even if some of…

What is Art? Part II of an Essay by Ivan Ilyin

Last week, I posted an excerpt from a wonderful essay by Ivan Ilyin. Although sometimes his language verges on the kind of “epicness” that people nowadays tend to laugh at, what he says is important. Even people who write primarily as a source of income are forced, sooner or later, to come to terms with their legacy, with what it means to be an artist. He reminds us, first and foremost, that…

What is Art? Part 1 of an Essay by Ivan Ilyin

What do you think is the most common essay title in the history of literature? I don’t know. But if I were to guess, I’d say it would be “What is art?” No one wonders about “what is art” more than artists. We can’t help ourselves. We want to know that the long hours of giving birth to our thoughts and our words are actually worth something. In our time, when people…

The Spiritual Meaning of Stories

More and more people are willing to accept the fact that fairy tales are not merely for children.However, there’s still often a stigma attached to stories as “not serious literature.” (Take this recent article, for example).  Tolkien argued against this elitism in his wonderful essay “On Fairy Stories.” C. S. Lewis wrote about it often as well. Lisa Cron writes about it in her wonderful book Story Genius (highly recommended!) Recently, I came across…

Lecture: How to Create Christian Culture in a Post-Christian West

As I wrote in last week’s post, Ancient Faith’s Writing and Podcasting Conference is becoming an important event in the life of Christian culture in America. The conference has grown from being a meet-up of Ancient Faith’s hard-working, but far-flung staff and writers, to an event that can and has inspired people to write, to think about the important issue of culture in our time, and to share expertise. I was immensely…

AFCon 2019: People Like Us Do Things Like This

A little over a week ago, I had the pleasure and honor of being one of the speakers at the Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting Conference in Pennsylvania. I had gone to this conference once before, in 2017. At that point, I was a newbie with a single book published and little else to my name. This time around at AFCon, I came as a speaker, not a wide-eyed newbie. By now,…

Orthodox Liturgical Music as an Experience of Culture

After I published my Call for a New Christian Culture, I received much positive feedback. But lurking behind it all was the heavy question: how? Well, I hope we’re all learning about the how together as I post more and more on this blog. But in the meantime, I’d like to offer one avenue that isn’t often considered as ripe for culture creation. Liturgical music. Too often the world of liturgical music…

Is Realistic Fiction or Speculative Fiction a Better Form of Culture Creation?

This past week, I was at St. Tikhon’s Monastery in Pennsylvania engaged in a work of culture creation. Benedict Sheehan, the director of the music program at the seminary, recently completed a new liturgy that a professional choir performed, then recorded. I was involved in both, to my great joy. But the time commitment for both was significant, and so I have no new post this week for my readers. However, I…

Ivan Ilyin: The Problems of Christian Culture

In last week’s post, I offered parts of Ilyin’s introduction to his never-before-translated work The Foundations of Christian Culture. In that introduction, he diagnosed the spiritual problems of modernity in a way frighteningly prescient for a man writing in 1937, before WWII, the Cold War, and the Sexual Revolution. He followed the introduction with a section where he discusses the problems that attend a specifically Christian culture: How is Christian culture even possible…

The Crisis of Modern Culture: Ivan Ilyin’s Opening Salvo

In about one month, I will be presenting a lecture on the creation of Christian culture at the Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting Conference. Part of my presentation will be a brand new translation of Ivan Ilyin’s fascinating work on the subject of The Foundations of Christian Culture. It has not, as far as I know, ever been translated. But it deserves to be studied and considered by all culture creators, especially because of the…