Compassionate Denial: A Paradigm of Abuse?

Inga Leonova, in her article of the same name for Public Orthodoxy, describes what she calls “the paradigm of compassionate denial.” She offers this quote as an example of the traditionalist position in the social media culture war: “My heart breaks for people in the Church who struggle with same-sex attraction, and we should counsel them and offer them support with love in their ascetic endeavor to carry the cross of chastity.” It soon becomes apparent, when reading this article, that Ms. Leonova does not believe this position to be compassionate at all. Unfortunately, while critiquing…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Gospel, Part 3

[T]he scope of our art is to provide the soul with wings, to rescue it from the world and give it to God, and to watch over that which is in His image, if it abides, to take it by the hand, if it is in danger, or restore it, if ruined, to make Christ to dwell in the heart by the Spirit: and, in short, to deify, and bestow heavenly bliss upon, one who belongs to the heavenly host. This is the wish of our schoolmaster the law, of the prophets who intervened between Christ…

Twenty-Eight Patterns of Living to Strive for to Enhance the Glory of your Marriage

Dr. David Ford and Dr. Mary Ford, professors of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary,  have written the following for the edification of the faithful. These patterns are patterns emanating from the Kingdom of God – to enter into them is to enter into the mystery of God. At the end there are a collection of quotes from Fr. Alexander Elchaninov about the mystery of marriage. We share these patterns and sayings for the building up of marriage, a sacrament which sustains and blossoms into many blessings for the life of the world. Do everything with love…

Nepsis and Digital Minimalism

During Lent, Fr Daniel Greeson inaugurated a series on this blog exploring the challenges of technology. So far, he has written a short piece that touches on the concept of technological skepticism and a more expansive essay on the New Media Epidemic. For my contribution to the ongoing discussion of the deleterious impact of constant digital media engagement, I will attempt to ground the framework of “digital minimalism” in the Orthodox ascetical practice of nepsis (νῆψις)—that is, sobriety and watchfulness, sometimes called “the guarding of our hearts.” The concept of nepsis was introduced to readers at…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Gospel, Part 2

It may come to pass that the good Samaritan of the Gospel may find someone going down from Jerusalem to Jericho … falling back from the martyr’s conflict to the pleasures of this life and the comforts of the world … [and] may, I say, not pass by him but tend and heal him. St. Ambrose of Milan   In Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis’s retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, one scene vividly captures a recurring phenomenon in the Gospels. As Lewis tells it, Orual, the story’s narrator and half-sister of…

The Duty of a Christian Scholar

This past semester I had the happy duty of reading through a Reformation treatise on the Eucharist, penned by the sixteenth-century Lutheran pastor, Joachim Westphal. I chose this for my student, a Lutheran who took to it right away, as it was one of hundreds upon hundreds (doubtless thousands) of late Renaissance and Reformation texts still awaiting translation into English. To date, her translation runs 50 pages and 18,000 words. I’m rather pleased with her. She’s the only student in my 25+ years at the university level I have ever given an A+ to, as I…

Analyzing the Hartford Appeal – Part 1

On April 1, 1975 Worldview Magazine published “An Appeal for Theological Affirmation: The Hartford Statement”. The themes of this Appeal were first thought up on evening in January 1974 at the home of Peter Berger, an eminent and respected sociologist. There Richard John Neuhaus and Berger, with great fun, made up a list of major themes in mainline Protestantism that irritated them. The irritation came from what they saw as serious problems arising from the assumptions being made in so much Christian engagement with public life in the United States. They shared this list with a…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Gospel, Part 1

What then could ever be equal to these good tidings? God on earth, man in Heaven; and all became mingled together, angels joined the choirs of men, men had fellowship with the angels, and with the other powers above: and one might see the long war brought to an end, and reconciliation made between God and our nature … and hope abundant touching things to come.  St. John Chrysostom When people today want to share their thoughts about a recent TV show or movie, they often say “spoiler alert” to warn others that, if they haven’t…

Orthodox Social Thought and the Biblical Writings

[W]hen we are fully conscious of our own foolishness, and have felt the helplessness and destitution of our reason, then through the counsels of Divine Wisdom we shall be initiated into the wisdom of God; setting no bounds to boundless majesty and power, nor tying the Lord of nature down to nature’s laws. – St. Hilary of Poitiers American writer Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five tells the story of the Allied bombing of Dresden, Germany during World War II, which Vonnegut, held by the Nazis there as a prisoner of war, survived. Thousands of civilians died, and…

Medicine in the Machine

I was recently in the emergency room with the family of a parishioner who had had an unexpected medical emergency. After waiting a while for the results of the procedure a man abruptly appeared clad in the iconic medical digs. This was obviously the person we were anxiously looking to hear from. Before we received the eagerly anticipated news, I was given the once over. For, of course, I was clad in cassock and cross. Our eyes were not to meet again. What happened in the next two and half minutes is something to which I…