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…

Orthodoxy and the Social Gospel

“Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10 Many high school students in my generation shared the experience of having to read selections from Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel The Jungle. The book describes the tragic story of Lithuanian immigrants working under harrowing conditions in Chicago’s meat processing industry. Sinclair hoped it would serve as a sort of tract for socialism—the book even ends with the protagonist having an “altar call” experience at a political meeting, becoming a socialist, and then…

Waging War – A Call to Arms pt 4

We ended our last entry in this series with a string of questions regarding how Orthodox Christians should approach moral issues in the public sphere. How are we as Orthodox Christians are to conduct ourselves in public discourse, especially in disagreements and clashes over the meaning of our life together? Culture war at its heart is a conflict of meaning and how to order our lives together. There are grotesque and even cartoonish ways in which we can engage in disagreement. Slander, misrepresentation, and arguing from a place of bad faith pervade so many interactions. The…

Orthodoxy and Lutheran Social Thought

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:19-20 In 1987, rock star, sex symbol, and later literal symbol Prince released a song replete with apocalyptic overtones: “Sign o’ the Times.” The events of the year provided a powerful backdrop—the AIDS crisis (“In France, a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name”), gang violence, drug addiction, natural disasters (“Hurricane Annie ripped…

Congress as ‘sacred ground’?

To listen to the New York Times and the Washington Post tell it, the events of 6 January were nothing less than an unforgivable act of sacrilege and blasphemy. ‘Inside the most sacred spaces of American democracy,’ went the New York Times report by Grynbaum, Koblin and Hsu, unfolded an abomination of desolation worthy of the breaking news format ‘reserved for foreign wars, natural disasters or terrorist attacks’. Now, I am someone who likes public order and stability as public goods. Order and stability are valuable no matter where they happen to be. So yes, I…

Escaping the West: A Call to Arms pt. 2

We are returning to an entry I posted a few weeks ago about Robert P. George’s article “The Pagan Public Square: Our Christian Duty to Fight Has Not Been Cancelled.” In conclusion there I stated that I wanted to “sketch out how Orthodoxy may fruitfully respond” to George’s article. Well, I believe I still need to focus on assessing Orthodoxy in North America…so my sketches will be postponed until I feel I have adequately drawn up some of the challenges facing the Orthodox Church as we engage with the North American public square.  Assessing George’s “Call…

Live Not By Lies…but which ones? [Book Review]

As the title of this review intimates, I liked Rod Dreher’s new book Live Not By Lies (2020), but I believe there are some blind spots in it.  Overall, I appreciated the second part of the book more than the first half.  And having read all of his books, I think I’m in a pretty good position to understand his oeuvre and general authorial strengths and weaknesses.   First, the positive. Dreher is a fantastic storyteller. He has a uniquely powerful ability to weave his own emotions into a narrative to punch it up to a new level. …

Christmas Season and the Pandemic of Loneliness pt 3

We all desire to be connected, respected, and loved. Aristotle was absolutely right, humans are political animals, we are made for connection, and for living together. It is the rare individual who can go off and do it on their own. Those who do this successfully from the point of view of the Church are those who are immersed in prayer with the God of love. St. Seraphim’s exodus and return to the world was one marked by love and compassion, echoing with the Paschal greeting, “Christ is risen!”  But there is something even more fundamental…

Christmas Season and the Pandemic of Loneliness pt. 1

A quick google search will yield endless entries of various websites and blogs giving advice as to how to stop feeling lonely during the holiday season. Our uber-connected world is lonelier than ever. This constant strain is exacerbated by the holidays, a time when the religious and the irreligious focus upon the home and traditions flowing from the hearth and table. The year end rhythm of joyous raucous gatherings, gift giving, and tables laden with celebration are for many absent. Our screens flicker with images and sounds of joy and yet we sit in a dark…

Orthodoxy and Neo-Calvinist Social Thought

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18 Who said it? “The man of faith acts, not as one endowed with free will, but as a beast that is led by the will of God.” Martin Luther? John Calvin? No, the answer is St. Peter of Damascus, from the Philokalia. He goes on to pray, “Do what Thou wilt to Thy creature; for I believe that, being good, Thou bestowest blessings on me, even if I do not recognize that they are for my…